Firm pitches 'known good' security

NSA Security recommendation guides

With network security loopholes and vulnerabilities on the rise, government agencies should stick with the "known good" approach for protecting information technology assets, according to one security management firm.

Chris Mullins, director of policy and compliance products at BindView Corp., a provider of host-based vulnerability assessment software, said the "known good" approach is a simple concept: If agencies configure their machines to the best available market standard, they will be protected against most things.

Last year, several federal agencies — the National Security Agency, the General Services Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Defense Information Systems Agency — teamed up with the Center for Internet Security and the SANS Institute and issued security configuration recommendations called Consensus Baseline Security Settings for Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 Professional.

The recommendations are designed to help agencies ensure that their Windows-based workstations are properly configured to protect against external and internal cyberattacks.

BindView next month will launch a product called Compliance Center that will help agencies configure Windows machines to the latest approved standards. Agencies can use the product to scan their enterprise and produce scores that indicate security as it relates to internal standards or to benchmarks established by the Center for Internet Security, Mullins said.

Once a policy is defined and deployed with BindView Policy Operations Center, BindView Compliance Center provides near-instant and continuous feedback on systems that are compliant and quickly identifies those that are not, Mullins said. The new product also provides analysis of a single machine, network, or the entire IT infrastructure using third-party standards, he said.

BindView officials have spoken with many potential federal customers, including the Air Force, GSA and the Environmental Protection Agency, about the upcoming product launch and the "known good" approach in general, Mullins said. The EPA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency are already BindView customers.

Compliance Center can be set up on a laptop computer within hours, although implementation and data population for an enterprise the size of the Air Force would probably take about a month, he said.

List pricing for Compliance Center, which will be available for purchase in the first week of June, will start at $200 per server and $5 per workstation, but government discounts will be available through GSA, Mullins said.

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