NNSA shores up cybersecurity

Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are attempting to protect vital assets agencywide with the latest in security information management software.

Officials at NNSA, a semiautonomous agency in the Energy Department, selected netForensics Inc.'s nFX solution to monitor approximately 400 security devices. The software provides cybersecurity and information technology personnel with information to understand risks and make informed decisions, according to NNSA officials.

The nFX software correlates and analyzes the vast amount of security event information coming from applications, antivirus software, intrusion-detection systems, firewalls and operating systems, and delivers it in intelligent reports to the appropriate security or IT personnel.

"Security administrators [at NNSA locations] are getting lots of security information from firewalls, intrusion-detection systems [and the agency's] publicly accessible Web servers," said Maria Gudewicz, who works with NCI Information Systems, the contractor to NNSA, and operations manager of NNSA's Information Assurance Response Center (IARC).

Different analysts are often responsible for managing security devices and Web servers, she said. And each device presents information uniquely. Before deploying nFX in April, analysts would have to manually correlate and share information, which prolonged the task of determining the severity of incidents, she said.

As a result, NNSA officials needed a product that was scalable so that it could cull information from NNSA sites, which have different operating systems and network configurations, Gudewicz said.

Because data is collected from multiple sites, analysts at the agency's information assurance center wanted the event data aggregated and filtered on-site before it reached the IARC, said Tom Frazier, senior systems engineer at netForensics. The software includes agent technology that can reside on Unix, Linux or Microsoft Corp. Windows systems to collect and categorize data. Analysts can then group data, for instance, as a denial-of-service attack or application threat.

So many companies are coming into the security information management market that it is getting hard to winnow the wheat from the chaff, said Andrew Braunberg, an analyst with Current Analysis, a market research firm.

However, "I'm inclined to think that netForensics has a real product," he said, noting that the product is strong in data aggregation and correlation. Other leading companies include ArcSight Inc., GuardedNet Inc. and eSecurity Inc.

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