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GCN : May 2014
METER tial data that can be used to create better awareness of what is happening inside the network as well as at the perimeter. The challenge is to enable communica- tion between these legacy and new de- vices and take full advantage of that data. CHANGING PRIORITIES The change can be difficult to make, how- ever. Security officials know what they need to do, but budget priorities often do not keep pace with needs, said former White House security advisor Richard Clarke. "The money goes to firewalls, the mon- ey goes to antivirus, the money goes to in- trusion detection and prevention systems at the perimeter, when we know the sys- tems fail all the time," Clarke said. However, this is changing as federal security guidance moves away from reac- tive defenses toward enterprise aware- ness. The Office of Management and Budget has required plans from agencies for implementing Information Security Continuous Monitoring and for providing automated feeds to a yet-to-be-developed dashboard plotting the security status of government IT systems. The OMB memo is just one step in a evolving set of security tactics that in- clude the Homeland Security Depart- ment's Continuous Diagnostics and Miti- gation program (CDM). To cover the shift in these require- ments, the General Services Administra- tion in August awarded Blanket Purchase Agreements for the CDM program to 17 companies, who in turn are partnering with dozens more vendors to provide an array of off-the-shelf tools for monitoring network activity and the status of agency IT systems. NEW SECURITY TOOL SETS The initial task order makes available the first four of 15 "tool functional areas" in the CDM program. These include hard- ware asset management, software asset management, configuration manage- ment and vulnerability management. Ad- ditional functional areas will be added as requirements develop. The tools under the CDM BPA also comply with the Security Content Auto- mation Protocols (SCAP), a collection of specifications developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to let products from various vendors com- municate and interoperate. The requirement for agencies to use SCAP-compliant tools when available has spurred development of interoperable products to automate security tasks and share information, making continuous monitoring practical. The point of SCAP and the CDM pro- gram is to break down the silos of data be- ing generated by point security products, GCN MAY 2014 • GCN.COM 21