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First Major Update to SP 800-53 Is Available for Public Comment

NIST has issued for public comment its first major update of Special Publication 800-53, the catalog of security controls and technical guidelines that information technology professionals use to select appropriate safeguards and countermeasures for protecting federal information and information systems.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued for public comment its first major update of Special Publication 800-53, the catalog of security controls and technical guidelines that information technology professionals use to select appropriate safeguards and countermeasures for protecting federal information and information systems.

SP 800-53, Revision 3, Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, is one of the principal security publications in the suite of security standards and guidelines published by NIST in response to the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.

Ron Ross, FISMA Implementation Project leader, says, “We have received excellent feedback from our customers during the past three years and have taken this opportunity to provide significant improvements to the security control catalog. We also continue to work closely with the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under the auspices of the Committee on National Security Systems on the harmonization of security control specifications across the federal government.”

SP 800-53 Revision 3 incorporates lessons learned since the original publication to update many of the current security controls, adds new security controls and control enhancements to cover advanced cyber threats, and provides a new family of controls to address organization-wide security programs. The revision introduces the concept of an information security program plan, a vehicle to capture organization-wide security program management requirements—such as capital planning and budgeting, enterprise architectures, and risk management. The revision also eliminates redundant or obsolete controls. In addition, the growing sophistication of cyber attacks necessitated specific changes to the allocation of security controls and control enhancements to the minimum baseline controls recommended by NIST.

In addition to the above modifications, Revision 3 incorporates an overview of a revised, simplified six-step risk management framework, provides additional guidance on managing common controls within organizations and adds security controls for supply chain threats. It also introduces a strategy for harmonizing the FISMA security standards and guidelines with international security standards including an updated mapping table for security controls for organizations wanting to comply with both FISMA and the International Standards Organization 27001 security standard.

Comments on SP 800-53 Revision 3 are requested. The public comment period runs through March 27, 2009 and email should be sent to The publication may be found at

Evelyn Brown | Newswise Science News
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