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NIST announces the release of Special Publication 800-53A, Revision 4, Assessing Security and Privacy Controls in Federal Information Systems and Organizations: Building Effective Assessment Plans. This update to Special Publication 800-53A contains significant changes to the 2010 version of the publication in both content and format. The changes have been driven by four fundamental needs of federal agencies to include:
By addressing the above needs, organizations will have the flexibility to:
There have also been some significant improvements in the current security assessment procedures based on feedback from federal agencies reflecting lessons learned during the conduct of actual assessments as part of the Risk Management Framework (RMF) process. The improvements include:
Finally, there is a continuation of the integration of privacy issues into the Joint Task Force publications. Privacy terminology has been integrated into SP 800-53A in a manner that is complementary to and supportive of the privacy controls defined in SP 800-53, Appendix J. The privacy assessment procedures that will eventually populate Appendix J in this publication are currently under development by a joint interagency working group established by the Best Practices Subcommittee of the CIO Council Privacy Committee. The new assessment procedures, when completed, will be separately vetted through the traditional public review process employed by NIST and integrated into this publication at the appropriate time.
The changes to the current security assessment procedures in SP 800-53A should result in significant improvements in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of control assessments for federal agencies. Efficient and cost-effective assessments are essential in order to provide senior leaders with the necessary information to understand the security and privacy posture of their organizations and to be able to make credible, risk-based information security and privacy decisions.
This publication was developed by the Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative Working Group with representatives from the Civilian, Defense, and Intelligence Communities to produce a unified information security framework for the federal government. Please note that we have made a one-time change in the revision number of SP 800-53A (skipping revision numbers 2 and 3) so we can align the current publication revision to SP 800-53, Revision 4.