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NIST SP 800-171: Risk Assessment (3.11, 3.12)

by Stephanie Dunn
October 10, 2016

Vulnerable devices and applications on an organization's network pose a great risk to the organization. Vulnerabilities such as outdated software, susceptibility to buffer overflows, risky enabled services, etc. are weaknesses in the network that could be exploited. These vulnerabilities could allow attackers to compromise the network and steal or destroy sensitive data.

The federal government relies heavily on external service providers and contractors to assist in carrying out a wide range of federal missions. Sensitive but unclassified federal information is routinely processed by, stored on, or transmitted through nonfederal information systems. Failing to properly protect this Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) could impact the ability of the federal government to successfully carry out required missions and functions.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created Special Publication 800-171 "Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations" to provide recommended requirements for protecting the confidentiality of CUI. Federal agencies should use these requirements when establishing contracts and agreements with nonfederal entities that process, store, or transmit CUI.

This dashboard aligns with the Risk Assessment (section 3.11) and Security Assessment (section 3.12) families of security requirements in NIST SP 800-171. These families are closely related and focus on risk assessment and vulnerability management. Components on this dashboard provide a high-level overview of an organization's vulnerability management program and can assist the organization in identifying vulnerabilities, prioritizing remediations, and tracking remediation progress. In addition, the dashboard allows for easily drilling down into the data to gain more detailed vulnerability information. This information will assist the organization in securing their systems that process, store, or transmit CUI. If necessary, assets or subnet filters can be used to narrow the focus of this dashboard to only those systems that process, store, or transmit CUI.

This dashboard is available in the SecurityCenter Feed, a comprehensive collection of dashboards, reports, Assurance Report Cards, and assets. The dashboard can be easily located in the SecurityCenter Feed under the category Compliance & Configuration Assessment. The dashboard requirements are:

  • SecurityCenter 5.4.0
  • Nessus 6.8.1
  • LCE 4.8.0
  • PVS 5.1.0

Tenable SecurityCenter Continuous View (CV) is the market-defining continuous network monitoring solution, and can assist an organization in risk assessment and vulnerability management. SecurityCenter CV is continuously updated with information about advanced threats, zero-day vulnerabilities, and new regulatory compliance data. Active scanning periodically examines hosts to determine vulnerabilities and compliance concerns. Agent scanning enables scanning and detection of vulnerabilities on transient devices. Passive listening collects data to continuously monitor traffic and discover additional vulnerabilities. SecurityCenter CV provides the organization with detailed vulnerability discovery and remediation tracking, in order to safeguard critical assets and sensitive information.

The following components are included in this dashboard:

  • Vulnerability Summary - 3-Month Trend of Vulnerabilities: This component is a 3-month summary chart tracking unmitigated vulnerabilities of low, medium, high, and critical severity.
  • Vulnerability Top Ten - Top 10 Most Vulnerable Hosts: This component shows the top ten hosts with exploitable vulnerabilities of high or critical severity. Editing the filters in the component and changing the tool from IP Summary to Class C Summary or Port Summary can give information on exploitable vulnerabilities per subnet or per port, respectively.
  • Understanding Risk - Remediation Opportunities: This table displays the top remediations for the network. For each remediation, the risk reduction for the network if the remediation is implemented is shown, along with the number of hosts affected. The table is sorted so that the highest risk reduction is at the top. Implementing the remediations will decrease the overall vulnerability of the network. Adding filters to the component, such as filtering on only critical severity vulnerabilities or filtering on a specific asset group, can narrow the focus of the component, giving remediation opportunities in specific areas.
  • Track Mitigation Progress - Vulnerability Summary by Severity: SecurityCenter records when vulnerabilities are discovered, when patches are issued, and when vulnerabilities are mitigated. This component assists in tracking vulnerability mitigations. The matrix presents vulnerability summary information by severity.
  • Vulnerability Summary - Exploitable Vulnerabilities: his matrix displays warning indicators for exploitable vulnerabilities actively and passively detected on the network, including Windows vulnerabilities, web vulnerabilities, open source application vulnerabilities, and vulnerabilities by keywords such as “Java” and “unsupported."
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