On 4/17/17 2:24 PM, Fen Labalme wrote:
This is a completely unofficial (and quite possibly non-helpful)
response as I am primarily a user of OpenSCAP, not a developer nor do
I work for NIST or any government agency for that matter.
But I run Arch locally on my desktop as do most of my infrastructure
team members so this caught my eye. And I run OpenSCAP scans on
RHEL/7.3 instances that we support.
The STIG for RHEL/7 has just recently been NIST certified which means
stamped with their approval for use on government systems. There is no
(certified) STIG for Debian, Arch, Ubuntu, etc.
Slight correction, since this seems to be a self-perpetuating myth: DISA
publishing a security checklist is not related to approval for use of
any technology. DISA states as much on their FAQ:
May I deploy a product if no STIG exists?
*_Yes_,* based on mission need and with DAA approval.
What do I use if there is no STIG?
DISA FSO developed Security Requirement Guides (SRGs) to address
technology areas. In the absence of a STIG, an SRG can be used to
determine compliance with DoD policies._*If there is no applicable SRG
or STIG, industry or vendor recommended practices may be used.*_
Examples include Center for Internet Security Benchmarks, Payment Card
Industry requirements or the vendor's own security documentation.
Does DISA FSO certify products for use in the DoD?
_*No.*_ DISA FSO certifies Information Systems for use in DISA. _*DISA
FSO not does certify products for DoD use*_. SRGs/STIGs are designed
to assist in implementing the secure deployment of products.
Local accreditation authorities often (incorrectly) treat STIG
publications as a 'DoD product approval.' DoD CIO and DISA go out of
their way to disassociate STIGs with approvals -- from their FAQs, to
speaking at public events, and even calling it out in the STIG release
In my opinion, this reflects a larger issue - a peeve of mine: While
the government (in particular, the DHS which is driving the Continuous
Diagnostics and Monitoring (CDM) process) is beginning to realize that
static stamps of security (in particular, the FISMA/ATO which runs on
a three-year cycle) no longer matches the fluid security threat
landscape, they are not willing to embrace the major paradigm shift of
rolling releases as found in Arch. The hesitancy is based in good
intentions: if you exhaustively examine a system for security threats
and stamp it SECURE then any changes to it could introduce new
I'll be touching on this at ICMC next month (the annual common criteria
+ FIPS conference). There are significant efforts to automate and
modernize the formal evaluation regimes. For example, NIST's Automated
Cryptographic Validation Testing:
As NIST states:/The structure and the rules under which the
[cryptography validation regimes] operate worked _well for the level of
the technology utilized by the Federal Government at the time when the
programs were created more than two decades ago_. As technology has
advanced however, the algorithm and module testing processes no longer
satisfy current day industry and government operational needs. Testing
is exceedingly long, well beyond typical product development cycles
across a wide range of technologies. The resulting validated modules do
not provide useful interfaces for integration into IT systems to enable
run-time monitoring of modules for compliance with FISMA.
But of course, new bugs/security holes are constantly being
in Windows 7, etc. Meanwhile, as new threat vectors are discovered,
new system architectures evolve to remediate or completely
disallow/disable the new threat, and these are available in new
releases. If a bug is found, it is immediately patched. (I love Arch.)
Arch isn't the only one who does that ;)
The STIGs still serve a good purpose, as they enable system specific
scanning of a large number of controls - I believe it has helped me
ensure greater security of my RHEL/7 systems. But the snails pace of
NIST certification and the inability to consider other operating
systems and applications seems to be based in the goal of static
To be fair, the snail pace is not the governments fault. It's based on
mission need. With (comparatively) few systems running things like Arch
and Ubuntu, they simply get pushed lower in the queue. If there was a
development community willing to create a configuration baseline for
things like Ubuntu, SuSE, or Arch, they'd get published.
Would be great to see the additional OS' join up with OpenSCAP and SSG :)
Well, that was quite a ramble, but I will stop before I go on. You
might also want to check out work that 18F did on securing Ubuntu
14.04 a couple years ago, see: https://github.com/fisma-ready/ubuntu-lts
What's the status of FISMA Ready?
And I am working toward proposing some initial steps toward greater
flexibility, but they are not ready for publication yet. I'll drop a
note here when they are.
Good luck with your Arch system. (And maybe someone else may have
something more helpful to contribute.)