Naval Research Lab wants cyber risk help

Shutterstock image (by Maksim Kabakou): cyber defense conept, magnifying glass.

WHAT: A draft request for information from the Naval Research Laboratory for cyber risk management services.

WHY: NRL, the Navy's principal R&D arm, is exploring hiring a small business to certify that its IT systems are compliant with Defense Department cybersecurity regulations. NRL uses many IT systems that are either new or need upgrades and isn't capable of assessing and authorizing these systems itself, according to the draft RFI.

The contractor -- should a contract materialize -- would have to certify that NRL's IT systems are compliant with a risk management framework defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In March 2014, then-Defense Department CIO Teri Takai replaced DOD's Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process with the NIST RMF, a move that gave federal and civilian cyber defense more of a shared language for risk management.

The contracting services would include drawing up the assessment and authorization packages for NRL's IT systems, and monitoring and verifying RMF compliance based on DOD-approved information assurance controls. All IT systems used in the process would be government-furnished due to the sensitive nature of the work, and the contractor would need a top-secret clearance.

NRL's IT systems have proven vulnerable in the past.

In December, the NRL's commanding officer, Capt. Mark Bruington, revealed that the lab had been hit by a previously unknown software vulnerability. The zero-day attack "became almost a science experiment unto itself" in that it was a teachable moment for network defenders, Bruington said.

NRL's hub for cyber research is the Center for High Assurance Computer Systems, which, among other things, works on reverse engineering the malicious code that hit it last year.

Click here to read the draft RFI. Responses are due June 15. 

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 03, 2016 at 2:10 PM


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