The new offering is a set of services that integrates multiple software packages and is based on principles of security risks. Agencies can install HP Continuous Monitoring on their own, or HP can provide it as a service off-premise.
"Continuous Monitoring starts with a discussion with [an agency] on what they are willing to accept in terms of risk and how they can mitigate it. We implement the automated policies and we provide that to the IT person responsible for the network," Betsy Hight, VP of HP's cybersecurity solutions group for the U.S. public sector, said in a phone interview.
[ What can your business learn from the DOE's security goofs? Read Department Of Energy Cyberattack: 5 Takeaways. ]
Instead of simply providing a snapshot of potential threats, the software-based risk management architecture shows threats instantaneously across the agency by actively identifying and reporting potential vulnerabilities, such as new hardware or software on the network. If an employee plugs in a brand new computer, for instance, the network administrator would instantly see the unprotected device and could quarantine it. The architecture works on three levels: the IT side; middle management, addressing how risk affects processes; and the executive team, for the strategic and long-term effects of risk. "They all need to understand what's happening," said Hight.
HP Continuous Monitoring also complies with updated security mandates, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-37 and SP 800-137.
In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) introduced a mandate for continuous monitoring of IT assets. The changes were defined in new Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) regulations, requiring agencies to implement software that supports continuous monitoring, and to start using Cyberscope, an online tool that reports how agencies are meeting the FISMA requirements. OMB last year asked agencies to reauthorize the security of all their systems at least annually, instead of reviewing the systems every three years as they have done in the past.
The proposed federal IT budget for fiscal year 2014 devotes more than $13 billion to cybersecurity programs, which includes $300 million in new funding for continuous monitoring.
Understanding security threats in real time will become an even bigger priority for agencies, said Hight. "The cyber domain is the next avenue for malicious activity impacting every organization both public and private," she said. "If we don't recognize the risks, we're setting ourselves up for failure."