DISA unveils new cybersecurity review

The agency is adopting an agile, "outside-in" approach to assessing the security of the Department of Defense Information Network.

Shutterstock image (by fotogestoeber): virus infection spreading out in a network.

The Defense Information Systems Agency unveiled a cybersecurity review process on May 9 that takes an agile, "outside-in" assessment of the resources and technologies the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) needs to defend itself against attack.

DISA calls the effort NSCSAR, short for NIPRNet/SIPRNet Cyber Security Architecture Review.

Pete Dinsmore, DISA's risk technology executive, said the framework looks at all aspects of cybersecurity, from endpoints to the internet.

In a May 9 article on Chips, the Department of the Navy's IT magazine, Dinsmore was quoted as saying, "NSCSAR is trying to answer three questions: Which cybersecurity solution do we need, how much is enough, and where can we take risk?"

DISA is working with the National Security Agency, DOD's CIO office, Cyber Command, combatant commands and other agencies to evolve DODIN's cybersecurity architecture.

Officials plan to compare existing cybersecurity capabilities against a threat framework that details adversaries' tactics and techniques. Those capabilities are evaluated for their effectiveness in mitigating an attack.

"We're taking an adversary perspective," Dinsmore said, "looking at our defenses the way an adversary does and saying, 'Where can we mitigate the adversary, and where are we having difficulties?'" The goal of NSCSAR is to support decision-making related to the budget, portfolio management and DODIN architectural domains.

DISA has already begun implementing NSCSAR as an agile process with "spin cycles" that take a new look at the network every 90 days. Officials completed the first spin in April and has a second spin scheduled for completion on June 30.

"At the end of the day, the budgets available for cybersecurity capabilities are either stagnant or decreasing," Dinsmore said. "And we need to figure out how to best use our dollars."

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