OMB plans domain name security measures

The Office of Management and Budget plans to issue a new policy directive to require agencies to implement security measures designed to protect information from the federal government’s domain name servers from unauthorized access.

OMB will soon issue a memo outlining the policy, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for electronic government and information technology. The policy will require agencies to examine the hierarchy of their domains and “decide who is in and who is out,” Evans said May 13 at a conference sponsored by Federal Computer Week and Topside Consulting.

The policy will roughly follow security guidelines already published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to Evans. The NIST guidelines broadly recommend several steps for agencies:

  • Implementing system and network security controls to secure their DNS hosting environments, including operating system and application patching, process isolation and network fault tolerance.

  • Protecting DNS transactions such as DNS name resolution updates and data replications on DNS nodes within agencies’ control using hash-based message authentication codes based on shared secrets.

  • Protecting ubiquitous DNS query/response transactions involving any DNS node on the global Internet using digital signatures based on asymmetric cryptography, and

  • Enforcing content control of DNS name resolution data using sets of integrity constraints that properly balance the integrity and performance of the DNS system.

OMB, in cooperation with the General Services Administration, is also preparing a policy utilization assessment tool that will become a service offered by GSA. The service will survey a statistical sampling of an agency’s computers and issue a report on the percentage of systems that comply with OMB’s IT directives, Evans said.

Also at the conference, Randal Vickers, associate deputy director of the Homeland Security Department’s United States Computer Readiness Team (US-CERT), said DHS and GSA are working with the five telecom service providers on the Networx contracts to prepare data transport services that comply with OMB’s Trusted Internet Connection initiative. DHS plans to define the requirements of the service for GSA by June 15 with the goal of placing TIC-compliant services on the providers’ service schedules by Nov. 15, Vickers said.



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