NIST releases security controls proposal

NIST draft publications

The National Institute for Standards and Technology today released the first draft of a publication describing mandated security controls for federal information systems.

NIST officials want agencies to experiment with the initial public draft, "Special Publication 800-53: Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems." It outlines electronic and physical controls for systems categorized under three levels of potential impacts, such as what would happen if someone steals information from a federal system and modifies the data or disrupts a government service.

Low-, medium- and high-impact levels are defined in draft "Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 199: Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems." NIST officials released the final draft of that standard in September.

Controls outlined in the Publication 800-53 draft fall into three classes — management, operational and technical — and are then broken down further into families. For example, under the management class, families include security planning and acquisition of information systems and services. Operational class families focus on issues such as incident response and contingency planning and operations.

NIST's Computer Security Division plans to use agencies' comments from the initial draft and an open workshop in March to develop final security controls that would become the new "FIPS 200: Minimum Security Controls for Federal Information Systems."

FIPS 199 and 200 are required under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. NIST expects to publish FIPS 200 in the fall of 2005, when its controls will become mandatory for all federal agencies.

Comments are due by Jan. 31, 2004, and may be submitted to sec-cert@nist.gov.

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