NIST Framework for FISMA Dates Announced

Posted April 10th, 2009 by

Some of my friends (and maybe myself) will be teaching the NIST Framework for FISMA in May and June with Potomac Forum.   This really is an awesome program.  Some highlights:

  • Attendance is limited to Government employees only so that you can talk openly with your peers.
  • Be part of a cohort that trains together over the course of a month.
  • The course is 5 Fridays so that you can learn something then take it back to work the next week.
  • We have a Government speaker ever week, from the NIST FISMA guys to agency CISOs and CIOs.
  • No pitching, no marketing, no product placement (OK, maybe we’ll go through DoJ’s CSAM but only as an example of what kinds of tools are out there) , no BS.

See you all there!

Similar Posts:

Posted in NIST, Speaking | 1 Comment »

Certification and Accreditation Seminar, March 30th and 31st

Posted March 13th, 2009 by

We’ve got another good US Government Security Certification and Accreditation (C&A) Seminar/Workshop coming up at the end of March with Potomac Forum.

Graydon McKee (Ascension Risk Management and associated blog) and Dan Philpott (Fismapedia Mastermind and Guerilla-CISO Contributor) are going to the core of the instruction, with a couple others thrown in to round it all out.  I might stop by if I have the time.

What we promise:

  • An opportunity to hear NIST’s version of events and what they’re trying to accomplish
  • An opportunity to ask as many questions as you possibly can in 2 days
  • Good materials put together
  • An update on some of the recent security initiatives
  • An opportunity to commiserate with security folks from other agencies and contractors
  • No sales pitches and no products

See you all there!

Similar Posts:

Posted in FISMA, NIST, Speaking | No Comments »

An Open Letter to NIST About SP 800-30

Posted June 9th, 2008 by

Dear NIST People,

I have this semi-random digital scribbling thingie called a blog.  You might have heard of them.  Hey, you might have even at one point heard of mine.  =)

On my blog I let it be known that I am what the rest of the world would call a “NIST Cheerleader”.  I watch your every move.  I comment on your new publications.  I teach your framework every quarter.  From time to time, I criticize, but only because I have a foot in the theory of information security that you live and a foot in the implementation with agencies who know where the theory and models break.

The best thing that you have given us is not the risk management framework, it was SP 800-30, “Risk Management Guide for Information Systems”.  It’s small, to-the-point, and scalable from a single server to an entire IT enterprise.  Sure, the quants hate it, but for the quals and Government, it’s good enough.  I know private-sector organizations that use it.  One of my friends and blog readers/commenters was the guy who taught a group of people how to do risk assessment, then these same people went on to help you write the book.

I heard that you were in the process of revising SP 800-30.  While this is much needed to catch up/modernize, I want to make sure that 800-30 does not follow the “live by the catalog, die by the catalog” path that we seem to be following lately.  In other words, please don’t change risk assessment process to the following:

  1. Determine boundary
  2. Determine criticality
  3. Conduct a gap assessment against a catalog of controls (SP 800-53/800-53A)
  4. Attach a priority to mitigation
  5. Perform risk avoidance because compliance models are yes/no frameworks
  6. Document
  7. ???
  8. Profit!

Use at your own risk.  Play safely, have fun!

At Your Own Risk Photo by  Mykl Roventine.

The reason that I am writing this is to let you know that I have noticed a disturbing trend in how now that we have a catalog of controls, the risk management framework is focusing more and more heavily on the catalog as the vehicle for determine an adequate level of security.  Some of this is good, some of this is not.

Why am I so concerned about this?  Well, inside the Government we have 2 conflicting ideas on information security:  compliance v/s risk management.  While we are fairly decent Government-wide at compliance management, the problem that we have is in risk management because risk management is only as good as the people who perform the risk assessment.  Not that we don’t have competent people, but the unknowns are what will make or break your security program, and the only way that you can known the unknowns is to get multiple assessments aimed at risks outside of the control catalog.

However, if you change the risk assessment process to a “catalog of controls gap analysis” process, then we’ve completely lost risk management in favor of compliance management.  To me, this is a disturbing trend that needs to be stopped.

Thank you for your time


Similar Posts:

Posted in FISMA, NIST, Rants, Risk Management | 10 Comments »

Visitor Geolocationing Widget: