NIST updates monitoring authorization process

The National Institute of Standards and Technology sent out its latest advice for federal agencies moving to continuous cybersecurity monitoring.

In the guidance, NIST's computer security division said the information system security authorization process depends on a robust information system continuous monitoring (ISCM) program.

A Nov. 18, 2013, memo from the Office of Management and Budget provided a framework for federal agencies to use to manage risk and continuously monitor critical IT networks and systems.

In that memo, OMB chose a phased approach and set a 2017 deadline for agencies to deploy ISCM tools that provide dynamic and proactive cybersecurity. OMB's memo specified the use of strategic sourcing to "minimize the costs associated with implementing requirements of the risk management framework."

The OMB memo also included eight steps for instituting ISCM across the government and assigned specific responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security and NIST, including the establishment of a federal dashboard for ISCM, coordination with the PortfolioStat and CyberStat programs, and ongoing guidance.

NIST's latest guidance said agencies could transition to ongoing authorization after they have implemented an ISCM process and the authorization officer  approves the move. NIST defined ISCM as "maintaining an ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities and threats to support organizational risk management decisions."

The guidance also explains information generation/collection requirements, as well as criteria for ongoing authorization and reauthorization. 

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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