Security benchmark tools available

Federal CIS download site

All federal agencies can now freely distribute and use the security configuration tools developed by the independent Center for Internet Security (CIS) and endorsed by federal security experts.

The General Services Administration's Federal Computer Incident Response Center this week announced an agreement signed with CIS for the redistribution licenses, paid for by FedCIRC, the National Security Agency, the Defense Department and other federal organizations.

The downloads are available through a site set up specifically for federal users at www.cisecurity.org/federalcisusers.

The tools offer a high-level security benchmark for commonly used operating systems, applications and appliances, and organizations can use the tools to check configurations. The tools are developed in collaboration with all of the center's members — including experts from government, industry and academia — but the center does not allow the companies that make the products to be members, said Franklin Reeder, chairman of the center.

In July, the center and several federal agencies announced the release of the latest tool, a benchmark for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system. Tools are also available for other operating systems — including Windows NT, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris and Linux — and for Cisco Systems Inc.'s IOS routers.

The tools are available for free on the center's site, but unless an agency has signed up as a member, the tools cannot be redistributed throughout the organization for use on multiple systems. The FedCIRC agreement does not provide full membership privileges, but it does allow agency systems administrators to distribute the tools internally, according to a center official.

Membership also allows agencies to participate in the development of new tools and the updates to existing tools, as well as open access to discussions among members.

Several agencies are already full members, including the Justice Department and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

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