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Holistic Information System Security

Too often, we think about and plan our information security in terms of protecting pieces of the system. We use firewalls and Anti-Virus (AV) software and intrusion detection and integrity checking and many more techniques to provide needed protections to various pieces. But we may not be paying enough attention to the gaps between the […]

Overlays of Tailored Security Controls

Tailoring security controls involves adapting the generic baseline sets of security controls to better fit a specific operating environment. Here is a list of tailoring activities: Defining “Common Controls” that are centrally managed and can be used by several information systems. Applying “Scoping Considerations” Using “Compensating Controls” Defining “Organizational Parameters” Adding “Supplementary Controls” Using “Overlays” […]

FISMA Law vs Home Email Server

Working for a federal agency that has IT functions regulated by public law and running an email server from home to use for agency business seems problematic, but it may be possible. Here are some of the laws and regulations that come into play: FISMA – PUBLIC LAW 107–347, DEC. 17 2002 is known as […]

Cloud Security as an Interconnection

Connecting your information system to a cloud is an interconnection. NIST guidance on handling the security of interconnections is documented in SP 800-47 “Security Guide for Interconnecting Information Technology Systems”. The security protections required for an interconnection will depend upon the nature of the connection being established. If the connection uses a clearly limited profile […]

Interconnection Security

The most fundamental reason to interconnect systems is to share data, but that can be accomplished at a variety of levels. A system interconnection can be limited and simple, using email to transfer data between systems, or it could allow two databases to share data. It can be a connection that is only used when […]

Cyber Strategy Evolves

Cyber strategies continually evolve as the state of the art changes rapidly. Long ago and far away, the attackers just wanted to deface web pages, but that is no longer true. From Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) to Stuxnet, the attackers are now far more organized, experienced and sophisticated. Our defensive strategies must evolve to match […]

Agile Defense with NIST Controls

Agile Defense In the past, information systems security often focused simply on perimeter defense, wrongly assuming that a strong perimeter was the only defense needed. Then, as regulations became more complex and more legal, infosec became more “compliance-centric”, trying to pass the security audits required by law. Compliance oriented security produces reams of paperwork and […]

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring is about keeping an ongoing watch on how well your security controls are doing their job. NIST introduced this idea back in 2004 when they were also evangelizing about the Authorization process, then known as Certification and Accreditation (or C&A). By law (FISMA), NIST supplies federal organizations with security guidance, which can be […]

Federal Cyber-Security

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has provided Federal Agencies with all the tools they need to get cyber-security done right. But obviously, it’s not being done right yet at most agencies. Why not? Failure to understand the threat level – this was certainly once the top problem… maybe not so much anymore with […]

800-53 rev3 FINAL

NIST has released the final copy of SP 800-53 rev3 “Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations”. This document is the encyclopedia of security controls for federal agencies and this is the third revision since it was originally released in 2005. The impact level baseline information bar that was removed in the Final […]