Tech Brief
MANAGING COMPLIANCE IN FEDERAL AGENCIES

For federal government agencies, complying with industry mandates and policies, regulations and governing law is essential to their ability to operate and meet mission objectives. But evolving standards, audit requirements, data collection challenges and mission priorities make it challenging to meet these mandates.

Challenges for Government Compliance 

The primary challenge for public sector organizations to meet compliance mandates has been an inability to identify and collect data from across their organization. The challenge is amplified given disparate and heterogeneous technologies strewn across the agencies, a lack of real-time monitoring across systems and the inability to customize and scale to organizational needs. 

Solutions requirement for compliance management

  • Flexible: The solution must offer a framework that includes all the organization’s business process entities and be able to adapt to changes

  • Scalable: Must account for growth, including the ability to quickly incorporate new activities, users and processes

  • Central Management and Federated Access: Must provide centralized management through a single interface to ensure consistent, easy management and self-reporting and organization-wide access to stakeholders through role-based access control

  • Data Source Agnostic: Must quickly interface with any and all data sources required to monitor, assess and meet compliance requirements

  • Extensible: Must go beyond compliance and seamlessly enable proactive security measures to enhance information protection against any threats—internal and external. Data collected once should be usable across the organization, beyond security and IT, extending return on investment (ROI).

  • Real-Time Architecture: Must aggregate log data and other relevant information from across the organization in real time to achieve accurate situational awareness and alert on deviations from desired outcomes

  • Customization: Must be able to query and build inquisition mechanisms and visualizations reflecting stakeholders’ needs and a changing environment to effect quick decisions.

Splunk for Compliance Management

Splunk offers a proven, flexible and extensible monitoring and analytics platform to automate any compliance initiative. It removes the tedium of manual and ad-hoc data collection processes, liberating staff from these time-consuming and error-plagued ventures by cutting across silos of operations and automating the data collection, aggregation and correlation. Splunk overcomes the traditional challenges of ingesting and normalizing data by eliminating the need to fit incoming data into predefined schemas.

 

 

  • Collect and aggregate data to develop an asset inventory and track usage

  • Role-based dashboards and visualizations to communicate risk posture and activity status across organizational levels

  • User behaviors and access control monitoring to detect abnormal or unauthorized activities

  • Network and data flows monitoring and security investigations support

  • Continuously monitor security controls and assess their effectiveness

  • Self-reporting and audit capabilities

Government Compliance Standards 

Government agencies use Splunk to monitor common compliance requirements that can be uncommonly difficult without the benefit of automated tools.

FISMA

FISMA mandates most federal government executive agencies provide information security for the data and systems they and their industry partners manage.Splunk software can help agencies comply with FISMA, by aligning with security controls as articulated in NIST Special Publication 800-53. It continuously monitors adherence to the various controls put in place by the agencies and provides self-reporting capabilities easing audit burdens. 

Risk Management Framework (RMF) 

In 2014, NIST issued a revision to its Special Publication 800-37 (Rev 1) to help agencies meet FISMA requirements using a risk-based approach to selecting and implementing security controls most suitable to the data, networks and information systems they manage. 

 

The approach consists of six distinct steps each with a set of security and risk management activities – Categorize, Select, Implement, Assess, Authorize and Monitor. The Splunk platform can help establish an effective risk management framework (RMF) since it requires collecting and correlating data from multiple sources in various formats to Assess (Step 4) and Monitor (Step 6) the effectiveness of an agency’s security controls and risk posture.

Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 

The goal of CSF framework is to help an organization reduce risk through a set of activities with desired outcomes in mind. It encourages the organization to first understand its current state and progress towards a target profile defined as part of the maturity framework. Splunk can help agencies monitor activities and deliver powerful insights to the degree of adherence to profiles and progress towards target profiles. 

HIPAA, PCI and CJIS

The same methods and logic can be applied to ensure compliance with additional mandates, including HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI (Payment Card Industry), CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) and many others.