Risk Management Framework + RMF Controls
May 13, 2021

What Is the Risk Management Framework? RMF Controls Overview

Security & Compliance
Static Analysis

Risk management framework helps you to set up a structured process for information security and risk management activities. Here, we explain what is the risk management framework (RMF), what are RMF controls, and how you can comply with RMF controls.

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What Is the Risk Management Framework (RMF)?

The Risk Management Framework (RMF) provides a disciplined and structured process that integrates information security and risk management activities into the system development lifecycle. It includes activities to prepare organizations to execute the framework at appropriate risk management levels.

Purposefully designed to be technology neutral, the RMF can be applied to any type of information system.  All information systems process, store or transmit information, and the RMF can be applied without modification to any type of system. This includes cloud-based systems, weapons systems, and mobile apps.  As the controls are implemented, verified, and validated throughout the development life cycle, the RMF supports rapid development and best practises.

Risk Management Framework and STIGs

It is mandatory for all Federal Agencies to follow the RMF when developing systems for government platforms. In addition, systems within the Department of Defense must comply with STIGs, or Security Technical Implementation Guides. 

STIGs are the configuration standards consisting of cybersecurity requirements for a specific product. The use of STIGs enables a methodology for securing protocols within networks, servers, computers, and logical designs to enhance overall security. These guides, when implemented, enhance security for software, hardware, physical and logical architectures to further reduce vulnerabilities.

📕 Related Resource: What Is DISA STIG? >>

7 Steps for Applying the Risk Management Framework to Federal Information Systems

NIST Special Publication 800-37, "Guide for Applying the Risk Management Framework to Federal Information Systems" describes the seven-step approach necessary its application.

Step 1 – Prepare (System)

Activities at all levels of an organisation to identify stakeholders and assets to manage security risks to identify and understand information handled at all stages of the lifecycle.

Step 2 – Categorize (System)

The characteristics of the system are described and documented, and the inverse impact of loss of confidentiality and integrity determined.

Step 3 – Select (Security Controls)

To select, tailor and document the controls necessary to protect the information system.  A continuous monitoring strategy should be developed

Step 4 – Implement (Security Controls)

Implement the security plans for the system and document the specific details of the control implementation in a baseline configuration.

Step 5 - Assess (Security Controls)

Determine if the controls selected are implemented correctly and producing the desired outcome with respect to the security requirements of the system.

Step 6 – Authorize (System)

To provide organisational accountability. A member of senior management is required to determine if the level of risk is acceptable base on the authorization package developed.

Step 7 – Monitor (Security Controls)

To maintain an ongoing situational awareness about the security of the system.

RMF Control Compliance Documentation

To validate the RMF Security Controls, relevant documentation must be provided along with DISA security checklists which correspond to the NIST controls.

The production of these checklists is a process sometimes called “STIGing”, which validates a software application under development by applying a DISA STIG.

STIG checks form the bulk of the compliance testing that will be done as part of the RMF process.

It is recommended to use automation wherever possible in the RMF and by applying a static code analysis tool — like Klocwork — to the application code, the necessary compliance reports against DISA STIGs in support of the RMF controls can be produced. The reports can then be added to the appropriate checklist

The final completed checklist can then be exported to the various dashboard reporting tools within the applications utilized by Defense agencies, for example ACAS, eMASS and MCCAST.

Assured Compliance Assessment Solution (ACAS), is a software set of information security tools used for vulnerability scanning and risk assessment and was developed by industry specifically for DISA.

Marine Corps Compliance and Authorization Support Tool (MCCAST) is used in support of the Assessment and Authorization steps in the RMF process.  Similarly Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service (eMASS) is a government owned solution which automates these RMF processes.

Static Code Analysis Makes Proving Compliance Simple

A static code analysis tool — like Klocwork — makes proving compliance easy. In addition, it can help you:

  • Identify and analyze security risks and prioritizes severity.
  • Fulfill compliance standard requirements.
  • Apply and enforce coding standards.
  • Verify and validate through testing.
  • Achieve compliance and get certified faster.

To experience first-hand how Klocwork can improve the quality and efficiency of your software, sign up for a free trial.

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