Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

11/24/2009
03:29 PM
50%
50%

NIST Urges Feds To Continuously Monitor Cybersecurity Efforts

New document puts more onus on applying risk management throughout the life cycle of IT systems

Draft guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued last week, pushes government agencies to adopt a comprehensive, continuous approach to cybersecurity, tackling criticism that federal cybersecurity regulations have placed too much weight on periodic compliance audits.

The guidance, encapsulated in a draft revision to NIST Special Publication 800-37, will likely be finalized early next year. While federal agencies aren't required to follow all of its recommendations, NIST is officially charged with creating standards for compliance with the Federal Information Systems Management Act, (FISMA), which sets cybersecurity requirements in government, so this guidance should at the very least be influential. As official statistics show attacks on the federal government continuing to rise, the Government Accountability Office and agency inspector generals have repeatedly found the federal government or particular agencies falling short of the spirit of FISMA, if not its letter. Meanwhile, critics have repeatedly found fault with either FISMA or its implementation in practice, saying that it doesn't do enough to ensure that government agencies remain consistently vigilant about cybersecurity.

The new document puts more onus on applying risk management throughout the lifecycle of IT systems. "This is part of a larger strategy to try to do more on the front end of security as opposed to just on the back end," says NIST's Ron Ross, who is in charge of FISMA guidance at the agency. "We don't think of security as a separate undertaking, but as a consideration we make in our normal lifecycle processes."

Special Publication 800-37 fleshes out six steps federal agencies should take to tackle cybersecurity: categorization, selection of controls, implementation, assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring. It improves on earlier guidance by emphasizing making rigorous cybersecurity part and parcel of the deployment and operation of IT systems.

The document breals out its cybersecurity guidance in several steps. First, federal agencies are advised to determine the value of their information. Secondly, it recommends that they determine what controls are necessary for information of that value. Third, it suggests the need to actually put the security controls in place. Fourth, it advises an assessment of whether the controls were implemented correctly. Fifth, senior leadership is urged to make a decision as to whether adequate security steps have been taken.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the document advises federal agencies to put continuous monitoring in place. Software, firmware, hardware, operations, and threats change constantly. Within that flux, security needs to be managed in a structured way, Ross says.

"We need to recognize that we work in a very dynamic operational environment," Ross says. "That allows us to have an ongoing and continuing acceptance and understanding of risk, and that ongoing determination may change our thinking on whether current controls are sufficient."

The continuous risk management step might include use of automated configuration scanning tools, vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection systems, as well as putting in place processes to monitor and update security guidance and assessments of system security requirements.

NIST will keep public comment on Special Publication 800-37 open until the end of the year.

The new document is the second in a series of five that aims to create a more consistent, unified framework for federal cybersecurity. A consortium of agencies, which includes representatives from the military, intelligence agencies, and civilian agencies, is behind the creation of the series.

The first in the series, Special Publication 800-53, provided updated recommendations on security controls. The other three documents will advise federal agencies on how to assess the effectiveness of security measures, provide an enterprise architecture lens through which to look at cybersecurity, and how to assess risk and tackle existing problems.

Over the coming year or two, NIST also plans to help integrate cybersecurity guidance into the government's official Federal Enterprise Architecture methodology, release a technical cybersecurity framework for systems and security eng

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-3493
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
The overlayfs implementation in the linux kernel did not properly validate with respect to user namespaces the setting of file capabilities on files in an underlying file system. Due to the combination of unprivileged user namespaces along with a patch carried in the Ubuntu kernel to allow unprivile...
CVE-2021-3492
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
Shiftfs, an out-of-tree stacking file system included in Ubuntu Linux kernels, did not properly handle faults occurring during copy_from_user() correctly. These could lead to either a double-free situation or memory not being freed at all. An attacker could use this to cause a denial of service (ker...
CVE-2020-2509
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
A command injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QTS and QuTS hero. If exploited, this vulnerability allows attackers to execute arbitrary commands in a compromised application. We have already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions: QTS 4.5.2.1566 Build 20210202 and later Q...
CVE-2020-36195
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
An SQL injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QNAP NAS running Multimedia Console or the Media Streaming add-on. If exploited, the vulnerability allows remote attackers to obtain application information. QNAP has already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions of Multimedia C...
CVE-2021-29445
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-16
jose-node-esm-runtime is an npm package which provides a number of cryptographic functions. In versions prior to 3.11.4 the AES_CBC_HMAC_SHA2 Algorithm (A128CBC-HS256, A192CBC-HS384, A256CBC-HS512) decryption would always execute both HMAC tag verification and CBC decryption, if either failed `JWEDe...