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ITL Bulletin for January 2007

ITL Bulletin for January 2007
ITL Bulletin for January 2007



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Forwarded from: Elizabeth Lennon 

ITL BULLETIN FOR JANUARY 2007

SECURITY CONTROLS FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS:
REVISED GUIDELINES ISSUED BY NIST

Shirley Radack, Editor
Computer Security Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Technology Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Information 
Technology Laboratory recently updated its guidance to federal agencies 
for selecting and specifying security controls for their information 
systems. Security controls are the management, operational, and 
technical safeguards or countermeasures that protect the 
confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an information system 
and its information.

The revised NIST guidance assists federal agencies in selecting an 
appropriate set of security controls for their information systems, in 
accordance with standards and requirements specified by the Federal 
Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002. Using the tailoring 
guidance provided in the revised publication, agencies will have 
flexibility in selecting and adjusting the security controls that they 
specify in order to meet their specific mission requirements and their 
operational needs in a cost-effective manner.

NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-53, Revision 1, Recommended Security 
Controls for Federal Information Systems

NIST SP 800-53, Revision 1, Recommended Security Controls for Federal 
Information Systems, was written by Ron Ross, Stu Katzke, Arnold 
Johnson, Marianne Swanson, Gary Stoneburner, and George Rogers, and 
published by NIST in December 2006. The publication, when used with 
other standards and guidelines, assists federal agencies in protecting 
the information systems that support federal government operations and 
assets.

NIST SP 800-53 presents the fundamental concepts concerning the 
selection and specification of security controls. The topics discussed 
include the structural components of security controls and how the 
controls are organized into families of controls; the baseline, or 
minimum, controls that can be selected; the common controls that can be 
applied in more than one organizational information system; the controls 
needed to protect systems in exchanges with external information 
systems; implementation of controls within an information system with 
assurance that the controls are effective; and NIST's plans for periodic 
review of the controls and maintenance of a catalog of effective 
controls.

The guide describes the recommended comprehensive process that 
organizations should follow for selecting and specifying security 
controls for an information system. Topics covered include the steps 
that an organization should take to manage risks; the requirement for 
federal agencies to categorize their information systems as low-impact, 
moderate-impact, or high-impact for the security objectives of 
confidentiality, integrity, and availability; how to select and tailor 
an initial set of minimum, or baseline, controls; how to supplement the 
tailored baseline controls to achieve needed security protections; and 
how to update controls through regular reviews as part of a risk 
management process.

The appendices to NIST SP 800-53 provide extensive information about the 
selection and specification of security controls. Included are a list of 
references, a glossary of terms used in the publication, and a list of 
acronyms. One table lists the catalog of minimum security controls in 
summarized form and indicates the appropriate control and any applicable 
control enhancements that would be needed to protect low-impact, 
moderate-impact, and high-impact information systems.

Another part of the appendix explains the minimum assurance requirements 
for the security controls listed in the catalog, and provides 
supplemental guidance concerning how the minimum requirements are to be 
applied. One large section of the appendix provides a catalog of 
security controls organized into families with supplemental guidance and 
with information associated with each control to allow for the 
enhancement of the control. Mappings of the relationships of security 
controls to government and voluntary industry standards and to other 
control sets, mappings of the relationships of security controls to NIST 
standards and guidelines, and guidance on the application of controls to 
industrial control systems complete the appendices.

The security controls guide is available on NIST's web pages at:

http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/index.html. 

Supplemental Publications

In addition to the final version of NIST SP 800-53 available on the 
above web page, you will also find supplemental publications to assist 
in the selection and specification of security controls. NIST SP 800-53 
introduces the concept of baseline controls, which are the initial 
security controls recommended for an information system, based on the 
system's security categorization. (See section on FISMA below.) 
Tailoring guidance in NIST SP 800-53 can be applied to the initial 
control set to produce a tailored baseline.  This tailored security 
control baseline is the starting point for organizations to determine 
the appropriate safeguards and countermeasures necessary to protect 
their information systems. Supplements to the tailored baseline may be 
needed based on the organization's operational needs and its assessment 
of risk.

Annex 1 to NIST SP 800-53 provides a summary of baseline security 
controls for low-impact information systems. It also provides control 
enhancements, full descriptions of the controls and enhancements, and 
the minimum assurance requirements for low-impact information systems. 
Annex 2 contains similar information for moderate-impact systems, and 
Annex 3 covers high-impact systems.

Other available documents are marked-up versions of NIST SP 800-53 that 
indicate changes made to initial public drafts including a document that 
summarizes all of the changes that were made to the February 2005 
version of the guide in the development of the December 2006 version.

Establishing an Integrated Information Security Program

Security controls should be selected and used as part of a well-defined 
and documented information security program. To be effective, an 
information security program should provide for:

* Periodic assessments of risk to evaluate the magnitude of harm that 
  could result from the unauthorized access, use, disclosure, 
  disruption, modification, or destruction of information and 
  information systems.

* Development of policies and procedures that are based on assessments 
  of risk and that reduce the risks to an acceptable level and address 
  information security throughout the life cycle of each information 
  system.

* Plans to provide adequate information security for networks, 
  facilities, information systems, or groups of systems.

* Security awareness training for personnel, including contractors and 
  other users of information systems, about the risks associated with 
  their activities and their responsibilities for implementing policies 
  and procedures for information security.

* A process for planning, implementing, evaluating, and documenting 
  remedial actions to address information security deficiencies.

* Procedures for detecting, reporting, and responding to security 
  incidents; and

* Plans and procedures for continuity of operations.

Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requires that 
all federal agencies develop, document, and implement agency-wide 
information security programs and provide information security for the 
information and information systems that support the operations and 
assets of the agency, including those systems provided or managed by 
another agency, contractor, or other source. To help agencies carry out 
these policies, FISMA designated NIST to develop federal standards for 
the security categorization of federal information and information 
systems according to risk levels, and minimum security requirements for 
information and information systems in each security category.

FIPS 199, Standards for the Security Categorization of Federal 
Information and Information Systems, issued in February 2004, was the 
first standard that NIST developed to meet FISMA requirements. FIPS 199 
requires agencies to categorize their information systems as low-impact, 
moderate-impact, or high-impact for the security objectives of 
confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

FIPS 200, Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and 
Information Systems, which was approved on March 9, 2006, is the second 
standard that was specified by FISMA. After agencies have categorized 
their systems in accordance with FIPS 199, they are required to 
determine minimum security requirements for seventeen security-related 
areas, and to select an appropriate set of security controls to satisfy 
the minimum requirements. Security controls, which are specified in NIST 
SP 800-53, are organized to match the seventeen security-related areas 
that are identified in FIPS 200. The application of controls is an 
essential component of a broad-based, balanced information security 
program.

For more information about activities that support the FISMA 
Implementation Project, see NIST's web page at 
http://csrc.nist.gov/sec-cert/index.html. 

Using NIST SP 800-53, Revision 1, in the Risk Management Process

Risk management is an essential part of an organization's information 
security program, providing an effective framework for the selection of 
appropriate security controls. The risk-based approach enables 
organizations to protect the information systems that store, process, 
and transmit organizational information, to make well-informed risk 
management decisions, and to apply system authorization and 
accreditation processes.

The risk management process includes the following steps:

* Categorize the information system and its information in accordance 
  with FIPS 199.

* Select an initial set of baseline, or minimum, controls from NIST SP 
  800-53, based on the categorization and the minimum security 
  requirements defined in FIPS 200. Apply the tailoring guidance from 
  NIST SP 800-53 to identify the starting point controls.

* Supplement the initial set of tailored security controls based on the 
  assessment of risk and the organization's specific requirements.

* Document the security controls, including refinements and adjustments 
  to the initial set of controls, in the system security plan.

* Implement the security controls in the information system, and apply 
  security configuration settings.

* Assess the security controls to determine if implemented correctly, 
  operating properly, and meeting security requirements.

* Authorize information system operation, using security certification 
  and accreditation procedures. Security accreditation is the decision 
  to authorize operation of an information system and to accept the risk 
  to agency operations, agency assets, or individuals based on the 
  implementation of an agreed-upon set of security controls. Security 
  certification is a comprehensive assessment of the system=C2=92s security 
  controls to determine the extent to which the controls are implemented 
  correctly, operating as intended, and meeting the security 
  requirements of the system.

* Monitor and assess selected security controls to track changes to the 
  information system on a continuous basis, and reassess the 
  effectiveness of controls.

NIST standards and guides that assist organizations in using the risk 
management process to select security controls are listed in the More 
Information section below.

Changes to Controls Selection Process in NIST SP 800-53, Revision 1

NIST SP 800-53, Revision 1, used in conjunction with FIPS 200, provides 
federal organizations with options for significant flexibility in their 
selection and specification of security controls. The tailoring guidance 
introduced in the guide will enable federal agencies to eliminate 
unnecessary controls, to incorporate compensating controls when needed, 
and to specify agency specific conditions. This approach gives agencies 
flexibility to respond to known threats and to take action on 
agency-identified risks. The guide reinforces requirements for agencies 
to consider the potential organizational and national-level impacts when 
they categorize their information systems as low-impact, 
moderate-impact, or high-impact systems.

Organizations are advised to select common controls for information 
systems whenever possible. The advantages of common controls are 
cost-effectiveness and consistency of implementation. Common controls 
should be developed, implemented, and continuously monitored by a 
central management team, and the results of security assessments should 
be shared with all information system owners. Within the common control 
structure, controls may be tailored to be system-specific and be 
described in system security plans.

Other changes relate to instituting controls that are appropriate for 
the use of information services obtained from external service 
providers. Agencies should establish trust relationships with the 
providers to assure that the external information systems have 
implemented necessary and effective security controls. Also changes were 
made to the security certification, security accreditation, user 
identification and authentication, media labeling, media storage, and 
media transport security controls. All of these changes are identified 
in the document available on the NIST web page, summarizing the changes 
that were made in Revision 1 of NIST SP 800-53.

More Information

NIST publications that support the risk management process and the 
selection, implementation, and assessment of security controls include:

FIPS 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information 
and Information Systems, requires agencies to categorize their 
information systems as low-impact, moderate-impact, or high-impact for 
the security objectives of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

FIPS 200, Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and 
Information Systems, specifies minimum security requirements for federal 
information and information systems in seventeen security-related areas 
that represent a broad-based, balanced information security program.

NIST SP 800-18, Guide for Developing Security Plans for Federal 
Information Systems, assists organizations in developing security plans 
that summarize the security requirements for each information system, 
and identify the security controls in place or planned for meeting the 
requirements.

NIST SP 800-30, Risk Management Guide for Information Technology 
Systems, provides guidance to organizations in identifying the risks to 
their missions brought about by the use of information systems, 
assessing the risks, and taking steps to reduce the risks to an 
acceptable level.

NIST SP 800-37, Guide for the Security Certification and Accreditation 
of Federal Information Systems, provides guidance for the security 
certification and accreditation of information systems in support of the 
risk management process.

NIST SP 800-53, Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information 
Systems, provides guidance in selecting, specifying, and tailoring 
security controls that will provide an appropriate level of security, 
based on the organization=C2=92s assessment of mission risk.

NIST SP 800-53A, Guide for Assessing the Security Controls in Federal 
Information Systems, will enable organizations to develop an effective 
assessment plan. The guide, which is currently available in draft form, 
is expected to be completed in mid-2007.

NIST SP 800-59, Guideline for Identifying an Information System as a 
National Security System, provides a checklist that enables 
organizations to determine if their systems should be designated 
national security systems in accordance with FISMA.

NIST SP 800-60, Guide for Mapping Types of Information and Information 
Systems to Security Categories, assists organizations in identifying 
information types and impact levels, and assigning impact levels for 
confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The impact levels are 
based on the security categorization definitions in FIPS 199.

NIST SP 800-70, Security Configuration Checklists Program for IT 
Products - Guidance for Checklists Users and Developers, describes 
NIST's program to facilitate the development and use of security 
configuration checklists.

NIST publications assist organizations in planning and implementing a 
comprehensive approach to information security. For information about 
NIST standards and guidelines that are listed above, as well as other 
security-related publications that support the goals of FISMA, see 
NIST's web page:

http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/index.html. 

Disclaimer
Any mention of commercial products or reference to commercial 
organizations is for information only; it does not imply recommendation 
or endorsement by NIST nor does it imply that the products mentioned are 
necessarily the best available for the purpose.



Elizabeth B. Lennon
Writer/Editor
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8900
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8900
Telephone (301) 975-2832
Fax (301) 975-2378


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