NIST SP 800-18r1 Chapter 3
3. Plan Development
The remainder of this document guides the reader in writing a system security plan, including logical steps which should be followed in approaching plan development, recommended structure and content, and how to maximize the use of current NIST publications to effectively support system security planning activity. There should be established agency policy on how the information system security plans are to be controlled and accessed prior to initiation of the activity.
3.1 System Name and Identifier
The first item listed in the system security plan is the system name and identifier. As required in OMB Circular A-11, each system should be assigned a name and unique identifier. Assignment of a unique identifier supports the agency's ability to easily collect agency information and security metrics specific to the system as well as facilitate complete traceability to all requirements related to system implementation and performance. This identifier should remain the same throughout the life of the system and be retained in audit logs related to system use.
3.2 System Categorization
Each system identified in the agency's system inventory must be categorized using FIPS 199. NIST Special Publication 800-60, Guide for Mapping Types of Information and Information Systems to Security Categories, provides implementation guidance in completing this activity. See Table 1 for a summary of FIPS 199 categories.
3.3 System Owner
A designated system owner must be identified in the system security plan for each system. This person is the key point of contact (POC) for the system and is responsible for coordinating system development life cycle (SDLC) activities specific to the system. It is important that this person have expert knowledge of the system capabilities and functionality. The assignment of a system owner should be documented in writing and the plan should include the following contact information:
- Phone Number
- Email Address
Preserving authorized restrictions on information access and disclosure, including means for protecting personal privacy and proprietary information. (44 U.S.C., SEC. 3542)
|The unauthorized disclosure of information could be expected to have a limited adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The unauthorized disclosure of information could be expected to have a serious adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The unauthorized disclosure of information could be expected to have a severe or catastrophic adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.|
Guarding against improper information modification or destruction, and includes ensuring information non-repudiation and authenticity. (44 U.S.C., SEC. 3542)
|The unauthorized modification or destruction of information could be expected to have a limited adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The unauthorized modification or destruction of information could be expected to have a serious adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The unauthorized modification or destruction of information could be expected to have a severe or catastrophic adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.|
Ensuring timely and reliable access to and use of information. (44 U.S.C., SEC. 3542)
|The disruption of access to or use of information or an information system could be expected to have a limited adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The disruption of access to or use of information or an information system could be expected to have a serious adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.||The disruption of access to or use of information or an information system could be expected to have a severe or catastrophic adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets, or individuals.|
3.4 Authorizing Official
An authorizing official must be identified in the system security plan for each system. This person is the senior management official who has the authority to authorize operation (accredit) of an information system (major application or general support system) and accept the residual risk associated with the system. The assignment of the authorizing official should be in writing, and the plan must include the same contact information listed in Section 3.3.
3.5 Other Designated Contacts
This section should include names of other key contact personnel who can address inquiries regarding system characteristics and operation. The same information listed in Section 3.3 should be included for each person listed under this section.
3.6 Assignment of Security Responsibility
Within an agency, an individual must be assigned responsibility for each system. This can be accomplished in many ways. In some agencies, the overall responsibility may be delegated to the SAISO. Often, the SAISO is supported by a subnet of security officers assigned to each major component. These security officers may be authorized to address the security requirements for all systems within their domain of authority. Other models may segment this responsibility in other ways based on agency structure and responsibility. The same contact information, as listed under Section 3.3, should be provided for these individuals. Most important is that this responsibility be formalized in writing either in the employee's Position Description or by delegation Memorandum.
3.7 System Operational Status
Indicate one or more of the following for the system's operational status. If more than one status is selected, list which part of the system is covered under each status.
- Operational - the system is in production.
- Under Development - the system is being designed, developed, or implemented.
- Undergoing a major modification - the system is undergoing a major conversion or transition.
If the system is under development or undergoing a major modification, provide information about the methods used to assure that up-front security requirements are included. Include specific controls in the appropriate sections of the plan depending on where the system is in the security life cycle.
3.8 Information System Type
In this section of the plan, indicate whether the system is a major application or general support system. If the system contains minor applications, describe them in the General Description/Purpose section of the plan. If the agency has additional categories of information system types, modify the template to include the other categories.
3.9 General Description/Purpose
Prepare a brief description (one to three paragraphs) of the function and purpose of the system (e.g., economic indicator, network support for an agency, business census data analysis, crop reporting support).
If the system is a general support system, list all applications supported by the general support system. Specify if the application is or is not a major application and include unique name/identifiers, where applicable. Describe each application's function and the information processed. Include a list of user organizations, whether they are internal or external to the system owner's agency.
3.10 System Environment
Provide a brief (one to three paragraphs) general description of the technical system. Include any environmental or technical factors that raise special security concerns, such as use of Personal Digital Assistants, wireless technology, etc. Typically, operational environments are as follows:
- Standalone or Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) describes small, informal computer installations that are used for home or business purposes. Standalone encompasses a variety of small-scale environments and devices, ranging from laptops, mobile devices, or home computers, to telecommuting systems, to small businesses and small branch offices of a company.
- Managed or Enterprise are typically large agency systems with defined, organized suites of hardware and software configurations, usually consisting of centrally managed workstations and servers protected from the Internet by firewalls and other network security devices.
- Custom environments contain systems in which the functionality and degree of security do not fit the other environments. Two typical Custom environments are Specialized Security-Limited Functionality and Legacy:
- -- Specialized Security-Limited Functionality. A Specialized Security-Limited Functionality environment contains systems and networks at high risk of attack or data exposure, with security taking precedence over functionality. It assumes systems have limited or specialized (not general purpose workstations or systems) functionality in a highly threatened environment such as an outward facing firewall or public web server or whose data content or mission purpose is of such value that aggressive trade-offs in favor of security outweigh the potential negative consequences to other useful system attributes such as legacy applications or interoperability with other systems. A Specialized Security-Limited Functionality environment could be a subset of another environment.
- -- Legacy. A Legacy environment contains older systems or applications that may use older, less-secure communication mechanisms. Other machines operating in a Legacy environment may need less restrictive security settings so that they can communicate with legacy systems and applications. A Legacy environment could be a subset of a standalone or managed environment.16
3.11 System Interconnection/Information Sharing
System interconnection is the direct connection of two or more IT systems for the purpose of sharing information resources. System interconnection, if not appropriately protected, may result in a compromise of all connected systems and the data they store, process, or transmit. It is important that system owners, information owners, and management obtain as much information as possible regarding vulnerabilities associated with system interconnections and information sharing. This is essential to selecting the appropriate controls required to mitigate those vulnerabilities. An Interconnection Security Agreement (ISA), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is needed between systems (not between workstations/desktops or publicly accessed systems) that share data that are owned or operated by different organizations. An ISA is not needed with internal agency systems if an agency manages and enforces a rigid system development life cycle, which requires approvals and sign-offs ensuring compliance with security requirements. For additional information on interconnections, see NIST SP 800-47, Security Guide for Interconnecting Information Technology Systems.
In this section, for each interconnection between systems that are owned or operated by different organizations, provide the following information concerning the authorization for the connection to other systems or the sharing of information:
- Name of system;
- Type of interconnection (Internet, Dial-Up, etc.);
- Authorizations for interconnection (MOU/MOA, ISA);
- Date of agreement;
- FIPS 199 Category;
- Certification and accreditation status of system; and
- Name and title of authorizing official(s).
For agencies with numerous interconnections, a table format including the above information may be a good way to present the information.
3.12 Laws, Regulations, and Policies Affecting the System
List any laws, regulations, or policies that establish specific requirements for confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the system and information retained by, transmitted by, or processed by the system. General agency security requirements need not be listed since they mandate security for all systems. Each agency should decide on the level of laws, regulations, and policies to include in the system security plan. Examples might include the Privacy Act of 1974 or a specific statute or regulation concerning the information processed (e.g., tax or census information). If the system processes records subject to the Privacy Act, include the number and title of the Privacy Act system(s) of records and whether the system(s) are used for computer matching activities.
3.13 Security Control Selection
In preparation for documenting how the NIST SP 800-53 security controls for the applicable security control baseline (low-, moderate-, or high impact information systems) are implemented or planned to be implemented, the security controls contained in the baseline should be reviewed and possibly tailored. The scoping guidelines explained in Section 2.5.1 should be used when determining the applicability or tailoring of individual controls. Additionally the controls that are common among numerous systems or within the whole agency should be identified and then documented in the plan. See Section 2.5.3 for guidance on how the common controls should be determined, documented, and coordinated. The process of selecting the appropriate security controls and applying the scoping guidelines to achieve adequate security17 is a multifaceted, risk-based activity involving management and operational personnel within the agency and should be conducted before the security control portion of the plan is written.
- - For low-impact information systems, an agency must, as a minimum, employ the security controls from the low baseline of security controls defined in NIST SP 800-53 and must ensure that the minimum assurance requirements associated with the low baseline are satisfied.
- - For moderate-impact information systems, an agency must, as a minimum, employ the security controls from the moderate baseline of security controls defined in NIST SP 800-53 and must ensure that the minimum assurance requirements associated with the moderate baseline are satisfied.
- - For high-impact information systems, an agency must, as a minimum, employ the security controls from the high baseline of security controls defined in NIST SP 800-53 and must ensure that the minimum assurance requirements associated with the high baseline are satisfied.
3.14 Minimum Security Controls
Now that the security controls have been selected, tailored, and the common controls identified, describe each control. The description should contain 1) the security control title; 2) how the security control is being implemented or planned to be implemented; 3) any scoping guidance that has been applied and what type of consideration; and 4) indicate if the security control is a common control and who is responsible for its implementation.
Security controls in the security control catalog (NIST SP 800-53, Appendix F) have a well-defined organization and structure. The security controls are organized into classes and families for ease of use in the control selection and specification process. There are three general classes of security controls (i.e., management, operational, and technical18). Each family contains security controls related to the security function of the family. A standardized, two-character identifier is assigned to uniquely identify each control family. Table 2 summarizes the classes and families in the security control catalog and the associated family identifiers.
|Management||System and Services Acquisition||SA|
|Management||Certification, Accreditation, and Security Assessments||CA|
|Operational||Physical and Environmental Protection||PE|
|Operational||System and Information Integrity||SI|
|Operational||Awareness and Training||AT|
|Technical||Identification and Authentication||IA|
|Technical||Audit and Accountability||AU|
|Technical||System and Communications Protection||SC|
Security control class designations (i.e., management, operational, and technical) are defined below for clarification in preparation of system security plans. Management controls focus on the management of the information system and the management of risk for a system. They are techniques and concerns that are normally addressed by management. Operational controls address security methods focusing on mechanisms primarily implemented and executed by people (as opposed to systems). These controls are put in place to improve the security of a particular system (or group of systems). They often require technical or specialized expertise and often rely upon management activities as well as technical controls. Technical controls focus on security controls that the computer system executes. The controls can provide automated protection for unauthorized access or misuse, facilitate detection of security violations, and support security requirements for applications and data.
3.15 Completion and Approval Dates
The completion date of the system security plan should be provided. The completion date should be updated whenever the plan is periodically reviewed and updated. When the system is updated, a version number should be added. The system security plan should also contain the date the authorizing official or the designated approving authority approved the plan. Approval documentation, i.e., accreditation letter, approval memorandum, should be on file or attached as part of the plan.
3.16 Ongoing System Security Plan Maintenance
Once the information system security plan is developed, it is important to periodically assess the plan, review any change in system status, functionality, design, etc., and ensure that the plan continues to reflect the correct information about the system. This documentation and its correctness are critical for system certification activity. All plans should be reviewed and updated, if appropriate, at least annually. Some items to include in the review are: