NIST SP 800-53r3 Front Matter

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NIST Special Publication 800-53

Revision 3

Recommended Security Controls

for Federal Information Systems
and Organizations







  Computer Security Division
  Information Technology Laboratory
  National Institute of Standards and Technology
  Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930
  August 2009
  U.S. Department of Commerce
  Gary Locke, Secretary
  National Institute of Standards and Technology
  Patrick D. Gallagher, Deputy Director

Reports on Computer Systems Technology

The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes the U.S. economy and public welfare by providing technical leadership for the nation's measurement and standards infrastructure. ITL develops tests, test methods, reference data, proof of concept implementations, and technical analyses to advance the development and productive use of information technology. ITL's responsibilities include the development of management, administrative, technical, and physical standards and guidelines for the cost-effective security and privacy of other than national security-related information in federal information systems. The Special Publication 800-series reports on ITL's research, guidelines, and outreach efforts in information system security, and its collaborative activities with industry, government, and academic organizations.


This publication has been developed by NIST to further its statutory responsibilities under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Public Law (P.L.) 107-347. NIST is responsible for developing information security standards and guidelines, including minimum requirements for federal information systems, but such standards and guidelines shall not apply to national security systems without the express approval of appropriate federal officials exercising policy authority over such systems. This guideline is consistent with the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130, Section 8b(3), Securing Agency Information Systems, as analyzed in Circular A-130, Appendix IV: Analysis of Key Sections. Supplemental information is provided in Circular A-130, Appendix III.

Nothing in this publication should be taken to contradict the standards and guidelines made mandatory and binding on federal agencies by the Secretary of Commerce under statutory authority. Nor should these guidelines be interpreted as altering or superseding the existing authorities of the Secretary of Commerce, Director of the OMB, or any other federal official. This publication may be used by nongovernmental organizations on a voluntary basis and is not subject to copyright in the United States. Attribution would, however, be appreciated by NIST.

NIST Special Publication 800-53, Revision 3, 236 pages

(August 2009)

Certain commercial entities, equipment, or materials may be identified in this document in order to describe an experimental procedure or concept adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by NIST, nor is it intended to imply that the entities, materials, or equipment are necessarily the best available for the purpose.

There may be references in this publication to other publications currently under development by NIST in accordance with its assigned statutory responsibilities. The information in this publication, including concepts and methodologies, may be used by federal agencies even before the completion of such companion publications. Thus, until each publication is completed, current requirements, guidelines, and procedures, where they exist, remain operative. For planning and transition purposes, federal agencies may wish to closely follow the development of these new publications by NIST.

Organizations are encouraged to review all draft publications during public comment periods and provide feedback to NIST. All NIST publications, other than the ones noted above, are available at

Comments on this publication may be submitted to:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Attn: Computer Security Division, Information Technology Laboratory
100 Bureau Drive (Mail Stop 8930) Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930
Electronic mail:

Compliance with NIST Standards and Guidelines

In accordance with the provisions of FISMA,1[1] the Secretary of Commerce shall, on the basis of standards and guidelines developed by NIST, prescribe standards and guidelines pertaining to federal information systems. The Secretary shall make standards compulsory and binding to the extent determined necessary by the Secretary to improve the efficiency of operation or security of federal information systems. Standards prescribed shall include information security standards that provide minimum information security requirements and are otherwise necessary to improve the security of federal information and information systems.

  • Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are approved by the Secretary of Commerce and issued by NIST in accordance with FISMA. FIPS are compulsory and binding for federal agencies.2 [2] FISMA requires that federal agencies comply with these standards, and therefore, agencies may not waive their use.
  • Special Publications (SPs) are developed and issued by NIST as recommendations and guidance documents. For other than national security programs and systems, federal agencies must follow those NIST Special Publications mandated in a Federal Information Processing Standard. FIPS 200 mandates the use of Special Publication 800-53, as amended. In addition, OMB policies (including OMB Reporting Instructions for FISMA and Agency Privacy Management), state that for other than national security programs and systems, federal agencies must follow certain specific NIST Special Publications.3 [3]
  • Other security-related publications, including interagency reports (NISTIRs) and ITL Bulletins, provide technical and other information about NIST's activities. These publications are mandatory only when specified by OMB.
  • Compliance schedules for NIST security standards and guidelines are established by OMB.


This publication was developed by the Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative Interagency Working Group with representatives from the Civil, Defense, and Intelligence Communities in an ongoing effort to produce a unified information security framework for the federal government— including a consistent process for selecting and specifying safeguards and countermeasures (i.e., security controls) for federal information systems. The Project Leader, Ron Ross, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, wishes to acknowledge and thank the senior leadership team from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Committee on National Security Systems, and the members of the interagency working group whose dedicated efforts contributed significantly to the publication. The senior leadership team, working group members, and their organizational affiliations include:

U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Cheryl J. Roby Honorable Priscilla Guthrie
Assistant Secretary of Defense DOD Chief Information Officer (Acting) Associate Director of National Intelligence and Chief Information Officer
Robert Lentz Sherrill Nicely
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber, Identity, and Information Assurance Deputy Intelligence Community Chief Information Officer
Gus Guissanie Mark J. Morrison
Principal Director, ODASD (CIIA) Deputy Associate Director of National Intelligence for IC Information Assurance
Don Jones Roger Caslow
Senior Policy Advisor, ODASD (CIIA) Lead, C&A Transformation
National Institute of Standards and Technology Committee on National Security Systems
Cita M.Furlani Cheryl J.Roby
Director, Information Technology Laboratory Chairman, Committee on National Security Systems (Acting)
William C. Barker Eustace D. King
Chief, Computer Security Division CNSS Subcommittee Co-Chairman (DOD)
Ron Ross William Hunteman
FISMA Implementation Project Leader CNSS Subcommittee Co-Chairman (DOE)

Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative Interagency Working Group
Ron Ross Gary Stoneburner Esten Porter George Rogers
NIST, JTF Leader Johns Hopkins APL MITRE Corporation BAE Systems, Inc.
Marianne Swanson Richard Graubart Bennett Hodge Arnold Johnson
NIST MITRE Corporation Booz Allen Hamilton NIST
Stuart Katzke Glenda Turner Kelley Dempsey Christian Enloe

In addition to the above acknowledgments, a special note of thanks goes to Peggy Himes and Elizabeth Lennon for their superb technical editing and administrative support; to Donna Dodson, Pat Toth, Matt Scholl, Sharon Keller, Randy Easter, Tim Polk, Murugiah Souppaya, Kevin Stine, Matt Barrett, Steve Quinn, Bill MacGregor, Karen Scarfone, Bill Burr, Doug Montgomery, Scott Rose, Mark Wilson, Annabelle Lee, Ed Roback, and Erika McCallister for their review of the security controls and insightful recommendations. The authors also wish to recognize Marshall Abrams, Jennifer Fabius Greene, Harriett Goldman, John Woodward, Karen Quigg, Joe Weiss, Peter Gouldmann, Roger Johnson, Sarbari Gupta, Dennis Bailey, Richard Wilsher, Nadya Bartol,

Mike Rubin, Tom Madden, Denise Farrar, Paul Bicknell, Robert Niemeyer, and Brett Burley for their exceptional contributions in helping to improve the content of the publication. And finally, the authors gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the significant contributions from individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors, both nationally and internationally, whose thoughtful and constructive comments improved the overall quality and usefulness of this publication.

A special acknowledgment is given to the participants in the Industrial Control System (ICS) Security Project who have put forth significant effort in helping to augment the security controls in NIST Special Publication 800-53 for industrial control systems. These participants include: Keith Stouffer, Stu Katzke, and Marshall Abrams from the ICS Security Project Development Team; federal agencies participating in the ICS workshops; and individuals and organizations in the public and private sector ICS community providing insightful comments on the proposed augmentations.


Making any significant changes to the publication without public review is not in keeping with the obligation we have to the public and private sector organizations employing the NIST standards and guidelines. Some thoughtful and insightful recommendations received during the final public comment period suggesting changes to the publication have been retained and deferred until the next major revision to Special Publication 800-53. We continue to balance the need for stability in the NIST publications to ensure cost-effective implementation with the need to keep the publications current.

FIPS 200 AND SP 800-53

FIPS 200, Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and Information Systems, is a mandatory federal standard developed by NIST in response to FISMA. To comply with the federal standard, organizations must first determine the security category of their information system in accordance with FIPS 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems, derive the information system impact level from the security category in accordance with FIPS 200, and then apply the appropriately tailored set of baseline security controls in NIST Special Publication 800-53, Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations. Organizations have flexibility in applying the baseline security controls in accordance with the guidance provided in Special Publication 800-53. This allows organizations to tailor the relevant security control baseline so that it more closely aligns with their mission and business requirements and environments of operation.

FIPS 200 and NIST Special Publication 800-53, in combination, help ensure that appropriate security requirements and security controls are applied to all federal information and information systems. An organizational assessment of risk validates the initial security control selection and determines if any additional controls are needed to protect organizational operations (including mission, functions, image, or reputation), organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, or the Nation. The resulting set of security controls establishes a level of security due diligence for the organization.


In developing standards and guidelines required by FISMA, NIST consults with other federal agencies and offices as well as the private sector to improve information security, avoid unnecessary and costly duplication of effort, and ensure that NIST publications are complementary with the standards and guidelines employed for the protection of national security systems. In addition to its comprehensive public review and vetting process, NIST is collaborating with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) to establish a common foundation for information security across the federal government. A common foundation for information security will provide the Intelligence, Defense, and Civil sectors of the federal government and their support contractors, more uniform and consistent ways to manage the risk to organizational operations and assets, individuals, other organizations, and the Nation that results from the operation and use of information systems. A common foundation for information security will also provide a strong basis for reciprocal acceptance of security authorization decisions and facilitate information sharing. NIST is also working with public and private sector entities to establish specific mappings and relationships between the security standards and guidelines developed by NIST and the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 27001, Information Security Management System (ISMS).


  1. The E-Government Act (P.L. 107-347) recognizes the importance of information security to the economic and national security interests of the United States. Title III of the E-Government Act, entitled the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), emphasizes the need for organizations to develop, document, and implement an organization-wide program to provide security for the information systems that support its operations and assets.
  2. The term agency is used in this publication in lieu of the more general term organization only in those circumstances where its usage is directly related to other source documents such as federal legislation or policy.
  3. While federal agencies are required to follow certain specific NIST Special Publications in accordance with OMB policy, there is flexibility in how agencies apply the guidance. Federal agencies should apply the security concepts and principles articulated in the NIST Special Publications in accordance with and in the context of the agency's missions, business functions, and environment of operation. Consequently, the application of NIST guidance by federal agencies can result in different security solutions that are equally acceptable, compliant with the guidance, and meet the OMB definition of adequate security for federal information systems. When assessing federal agency compliance with NIST Special Publications, Inspectors General, evaluators, auditors, and assessors, should consider the intent of the security concepts and principles articulated within the specific guidance document and how the agency applied the guidance in the context of its mission/business responsibilities, operational environment, and unique organizational conditions.