DIACAP Essentials + IA Control Validation Training (part 2): DIACAP/AFCAP Day1

This is the second installment of the DIACAP Essentials journal.

In the first day of class we’ve taken a high level look at the big picture of the Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification & Accreditation Process (DIACAP) and Air Force Certification & Accreditation Program (AFCAP). It is a very valuable tool for a beginner.

Since I’ve gone through the entire process (with a legacy system) more than once through all the growing pains of Air Force C&A from DITSCAP to DIACAP, I found that I knew about 90% of everything taught. I don’t mind having a refresher, though and quite frankly, I need the CPE’s for my CISSP :).

There were a couple of golden nuggets that I’ve been able to get out of some of the old timers. I learned some interesting things about how the Navy, Marines and Army do things.
Navy (as weird as their dumb ass rank system.. yep, I said it.. its dumb) have like three systems: DITPR-DON, DA-DUMB and some other BS, Marines have something called Exacta and the Army has APMS (Army Profile Management System). Also learned cool off topic stuff like history of eMass.

I must admit I’m looking forward to day two.
pros of day 1: Good solid start on basics GREAT for beginners. SecureInfo gets mad props for have a great instructor John M.(don’t know if he wants his full name published.. but he’s highly, highly knowledgeable and very positive).

cons of day 1: Right off the bat I am noticing a huge hole in the training… a lack of in depth teaching of EITDR, which is how the Air Force implements, manages and maintains the entire DIACAP/AFCAP process. I don’t really see how you can teach one without the other these days. I guess contractually, SecureInfo can not touch it since some other company has the contract. But unfortunately, the folks that are new to this are going to suffer. Because if they goto this class without knowing the EITDR they will know why but now how, and if they go to the EITDR class without knowing the DIACAP they will know how but not Why.

Validation: Track the Results

If you are doing Certification & Accreditation then you know it’s all about the documentation.

But its not just about reviewing the documentation that a system is supposed to have. If you’re in the business of getting systems validated sometimes you’ll have to produce the documentation.

An IA Analyst, system security engineer or Information Assurance Officer (IAO) usually documents the results of their security tests. For example, if they run a Retina Scan they will want to generate a report that has the results of that network or system scan.

DoD Information Assurance Certification & Accreditation (DIACAP) Knowledge Service, the Enterprise Information Technology Data Repository (EITDR) and other IT profile databases have very detailed information on what the final Validators are looking for.

If you’re in line with the final validators you will not have much of a problem, because they will approve the system and move it on to the Designated Approval Authority (DAA).

New Certification & Accreditation Process (Rumor)

One C&A package to rule them all?

The federal government has a bunch of Certification & Accreditation processes. There is Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification & Accreditation (DIACAP) for the DOD, there’s Director of Central intelligence Directive (DCID) 6/3 for certain classified systems, there is National Information Assurance Certification & Accreditation (NIACAP) for National Security Systems. And under each of these their processes differ according the branch, leadership, organization and/or mission. Each process, organization, branch and mission has a different set of resources that they pull from. DIACAP pertains to military branches and pulls from the DoD 8500 series, many other federal agencies use National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-xx series.

Each agency, organization and/or branch uses their own methods and everyone is happy. The only problem is when a system gets exploited. When it happens there is mass panic and they realize that there are massive holes in the process.

Rumors and Trends

There have been rumors floating around about many of these federal C&A processes merging into one. At their core they are actually pretty similar. Take NIST SP 800-37, C&A of Federal Information Systems and DOD 8510, DIACAP for example. Both have an initial phase where data is gathered on the system and all parties involved with a system are pulled together (see table. 1 for more similarities).

Federal C&A Process



SP 800-37

Initiation Phase

Gather data, get agreement of all stake


Initiate & Plan IA C&A




SP 800-37

Security Certification Phase

IA Control Assessment and agreement


Implement & Validate Assigned IA




SP 800-37

Security Accreditation Phase

Security implementation and assessment



Make Cert. Determination &
Accreditation Decision




DP 800-37

Continuous Monitoring Phase

Configuration management; FISMA reporting;


Maintain Authorization to Operate






Retire System








DIACAP Activity #4 Maintain Authorization to Operate and Conduct Review

Maintain Situational AwarenessIncluded in the IA controls assigned to all DoD ISs are IA controls related to configuration and vulnerability management, performance monitoring, and periodic independent evaluations (e.g., penetration testing). The IAM continuously monitors the system or information environment for security-relevant events and configuration changes that negatively impact IA posture and periodically assesses the quality of IA controls implementation against performance indicators such as security incidents, feedback from external inspection agencies (e.g., IG DoD, Government Accountability Office (GAO)), exercises, and operational evaluations. In addition the IAM may, independently or at the direction of the CA or DAA, schedule a revalidation of any or all IA controls at any time. Reference (a) requires revalidation of a select number of IA controls at least annually. (DoD 8510.01,

Knowing what is going on with the system is the job of the Information Assurance Manager (IAM). This can be delegated to the Information Assurance Officer (IAO) or the IAM and IAO may be the same person, but keep in mind that these permission require training, a technical and security certification (IAW DoD 8570).

Maintain IA Posture

Ensuring that there are no changes to the IA posture falls on the shoulders of the IAM.  This includes making sure that the establish baseline of the system has no signifigant changes.  Most patches (even involving security) will have a minimal impact on the system.  Applicable patches should always be tested before being put on a system.  Major patches are usually service packs that may actually change the IA posture.  The DIACAP Team should be involved with any major changes to the IA posture.  They will also decide which modifications, upgrades and additions should be considered changes to the IA posture of the system.  As a minimum, the Program Manager, IAM, subject matter experts (software/system security engineers) and information system owner/user representative should be appart of that decision. 

What will likely be considered a change to the IA Posture:

Adding IA products (firewalls, intrusion detection systems, ect)

Some internetworking devices such as Routers and Switches

New operating systems

Major upgrades to software or operating systems (not including support applications)

Newly discover major vulnerabilities

*Basically any major changes that will affect the security, supportability, usability, and interoperability of the system.  It is important to have who, what when and where of sustainability, new risks, and usability requirements in writing.  Information Assurance includes all these things, not just security.

What are usually not changes to the IA Posture: 

Most NOTAM/IAVAS/TCNOs (such as Office patches, browser upgrades, ect)

Re-positioning equipment within the office (as long as the IAM has readable documentation on the data connections)

Adding passive periferal devices such as stand-alone printers, scanners and new monitors (devices with connectivity to external sources such as faxes, share external network printers should go before the DIACAP Team)

Devices such as DVD, CD and hard drives with more capacity may not affect the IA Posture but it is best to have some formalized method of tracking upgrades to hardware  especially on mission systems as some changes could have some unpredictable affects

Annual FISMA Reviews

DIACAP includes the task of performing reviews annually on the system.  This is one of the key features of the Federal Information System Management Act of 2002.  What ever command or branch of the DoD you reside, your system has the potential of being audited annually to make sure it is in compliance with federal regulations.  The eMASS IT Portfolio management systems (EITDR, DITPR-DON, APMS) also has this feature intergrated into its key functions.  All data on each systems IA posture is collect annually.   This is done by the IAMs and/or the DIACAP Team.

Additionally, each system must be re-accredited every three years: Initiate Reaccreditation. In accordance with OMB Circular A-130 (Reference (s)), an IS must be recertified and reaccredited once every 3 years. The results of an annual review or a major change in the IA posture at any time may also indicate the need for recertification and reaccreditation of the IS.  DoD 8510.01,

From DoD 8510.01, DIACAP: DoD ISs with a current ATO that are found to be operating in an unacceptable IA posture through GAO audits, IG DoD audits, or other reviews or events such as an annual security review or compliance validation shall have the newly identified weakness added to an existing or newly created IT Security POA&M. If a newly discovered CAT I weakness on a DoD IS operating with an ATO cannot be corrected within 30 days, the system can only continue operation under the terms prescribed in subparagraph If a newly discovered CAT II weakness on a DoD IS operating with a current ATO cannot be corrected or satisfactorily mitigated within 90 days, the system can only continue operation under the terms prescribed in subparagraph Maintain IA Posture. The IAM may recommend changes or improvement to the implementation of assigned IA controls, the assignment of additional IA controls, or changes or improvements to the design of the IS itself. Perform Reviews. The IAM shall annually provide a written or DoD PKI-certified digitally signed statement to the DAA and the CA that indicates the results of the security review of all IA controls and the testing of selected IA controls as required by Reference (a). The review will either confirm the effectiveness of assigned IA controls and their implementation, or it will recommend: changes such as those described in subparagraph; a change in accreditation status (e.g., accreditation status is downgraded to IATO or DATO); or development of an IT Security POA&M. The CA and DAA shall review the IAM statement in light of mission and information environment indicators and determine a course of action that will be provided to the concerned CIO or SIAO for reporting requirements described in Reference (a). The date of the annual security review will be recorded in the SIP. A DAA may downgrade or revoke an accreditation decision at any time if risk conditions or concerns so warrant. Initiate Reaccreditation. In accordance with OMB Circular A-130 (Reference (s)), an IS must be recertified and reaccredited once every 3 years. The results of an annual review or a major change in the IA posture at any time may also indicate the need for recertification and reaccreditation of the IS.

Register the System with DoD IA Component

Register the System with DoD IA Component

Each branch of the military has an IA component. Each of the US Armed Services have a division under their respective chief information officer’s responsible for all computers, communications and networks in a given military branch. These communications divisions will house the Information Assurance component responsible for the DIACAP tasks.

Table 1. DoD IA Components

DoD Branch Branch Communication & Information Service Branch IA Component
US Air Force Air Force Communication Agency (AFCA)http://public.afca.af.mil/ AFCA/EVAssessment and Validatorshttp://public.afca.af.mil/library/
US Army *Army NETCOM 9th Signal Corps http://www.netcom.army.mil/ Army NETCOM Information Assurance Office
Department of the Navy DON CIODON Information Management and Information Technology (IM/IT)http://www.doncio.navy.mil DON SIAOhttp://www.doncio.navy.mil/Main.aspx

*more on Army NETCOM

Its important to get registered as soon as possible, because the DIACAP process (as with any certification & accreditation process) can take well over from six months to accomplish.

Role of the IA Component

Within the DIACAP Team, the IA Component’s role will likely be the “Certifying Authority” which is responsible for the final validation of security controls. This role is powerful in that it will determine whether or not the system is certified. The designated accreditation authority (DAA) listens the the recommendation of the CA. If the CA validates, the DAA will accredit. Also, the DAA can actually be within the IA Component, depending on the Mission Assurance Category (MAC) level (ref: USAF IT Lean/SISSU guidelines, this may differ within Army & DON).

IA Component’s IT Portfolio

DoD IT portfolio management (DoDD 8115.01) requires that each of the branches report to the DoD the status of IT systems.  Each branches IA Component has a Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service (eMASS).  You will likely be tasked with entering your system into that database.  This is what is essentially meant by register the system with the DoD IA Component.

More on DoD IT portfolio management & eMASS

Security, Interoperability, Supportability, Sustainability and Usability (SISSU)


The Security, Interoperability, Supportability, Sustainability and Usability (SISSU) is considered a part of the USAF IT LEAN process.  SISSU is a comprehensive database of security controls (IA Controls) addressed in DoDI 8500.02 needed to complete the DIACAP process. 


The SISSU questions includes everything from documentation of the system to physical security, to network security.  To access the SISSU process in the EITDR one need an account and “stakeholders list” approval via AFCA/EV.


Security, Interoperability, Supportability, Sustainability and Usability are each considered disciplines.  Each discipline is assigned a set of roles: producer, reviewer, validator, and approver.  Once all of these roles have done their part on each of their applicable questions in a given discipline they can move on to the next phase.  The phases are Define Need, Design, Build & Test, and Release.

USAF Enterprise Information Technology Data Repository (EITDR)

The EITDR is a database controlled and managed by AFCA/EV. It includes information on most UNCLASS USAF IT systems. All data is uploaded from the EITDR into the Department of Defense Information Technology Profile Registry (DITPR) to meet Federal Information System Management Act requirements.

The DIACAP process is only a small part of what the data collected in the EITDR. The system is used to keep track of new acquisitions, new major DoD mandate compliance, program management and system engineering documentation.

EITDR maintains the Security, Interoperability, Supportability, Sustainability and Usability (SISSU) of all applicable systems. This process lists all DIACAP IA Controls. Stakeholder’s in the DIACAP Process (DIACAP Team) must be selected in order to access the SISSU process.

In the EITDR SISSU Phases are broken into Define Need, Design, Build and Test and Sustain And Release.   The questions are put into the following disciplines: Security, Interoperability, Supportability/Sustainability and Usability.  The IA Component (AFCA/EVSS) is responsible for validating & approving the Security phase.  All the other disciplines Validators and Approvers are chosen by the agency registering the system.  

 The EITDR allows stakeholders to set milestones and put the system through each phase of the DIACAP process. It also allows the producer to automatically create POA&Ms, System Identification Profile, DIACAP Implementation Plan and DIACAP Scorecard.

Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service (eMASS)


**15 March 14 Update – eMASS will match the process/procedure and IA Controls of the new RMF for DoD IT that is replacing the DIACAP.  **

discussed here a little: http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SMA/ispab/documents/minutes/2012-10/ispab_oct2012_dcussatt_dod-rmf-transition-brief.pdf

**30 Aug 11 Update to eMASS info. Previous information mixed eMass with IT Portfolio Management systems. There was a lot of confusion about eMASS due to is very late release following the official publication of DoDI 8510, DIACAP**

eMASS is a database managed by the DoD created to store, track and manage the activities of the Certification & Accreditation process (and/or risk management framework steps). The database is managed on the NIPR & SIPR. For more information refer to:
Information Assurance Support Environment (IASE)

eMASS vs. IT Portolio Management Systems

eMASS should not be confused with IT Portfolio management system addressed in DoDD 8115.01, “Information Technology Portfolio Management”:

USAF Enterprise Information Technology Data Repository (EITDR)


The DON CIO provides guidance on registration requirements for the DON Application and Database Management System (DADMS) and DoD IT Portfolio Registry (DITPR)-DON, which replaced the DON IT Registry. DITPR-DON is the single, authoritative source for data regarding DON IT systems, including National Security Systems. Registration of mission-critical, mission-essential and mission-support systems in DITPR-DON is central to establishing an accurate and reliable enterprise-wide inventory. Additionally, DITPR-DON is used to satisfy statutory and management reporting requirements, including Federal Information Security Management Act reporting and the Business Management Modernization Program certification process.


Army Portfolio Management Solution

The The Army Portfolio Management Solution (APMS) is the Army’s system has four major modules: IT registration module, Domain Certification module, Capital Planning & Investment Mgt IT Prioritization Module and Capital Planning Investment Control IT Budget Reporting Module

All the databases do essentially the same thing. For the purpose of DIACAP, the Information Technology registration and IA certification components are the most important.


DoD Regulation 5200.1-R , “DoD Information Security Program,” January 1997

DoDD 8115.01, “Information Technology Portfolio Management”, dated October 10, 2005

DoDD 8500.01E, “Information Assurance (IA),” dated April 23, 2007

DoD 8510.1-M, “DoD Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process (DITSCAP) Application Document”, dated July 31, 2000

DoDI 8551.1, “Ports, Protocols, and Services Management (PPSM) Release 6.9,” dated September, 2007

DoDD 8570.1, “Information Assurance Training, Certification, and Workforce Management,” dated August 15, 2004

DoDI 8570.1-M “Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program,” dated December 19, 2005

Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum, “Information Technology Portfolio Management,” March 22, 2004

Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) (2002)

Information Assurance Support Environment (IASE)

EITDR – enterprise information technology data repository


30 Aug 11 – Update *USAF Recently changed the functionality of EITDR

To all System Security Engineers and Information Assurance Officers,

Here is something you might need to know. The Air Force is conducting all MANY of its certification & accreditation through the EITDR database none of its C&A (soon Risk Management Framework) through EITDR. The USAF is moving to the eMASS. As of Aug 2011, the USAF is still using EITDR to do IT portfolio management (to remain compliant with FISMA). EITDR feeds into the DoD IT Portfolio Registry (DITPR) database. Each branch has its own methods IT registry: the Army’s has the Portfolio Management System (APMS), Navy/Marines have the DITPR-DON. All of these system are used to “record investment review and certification submission information, FISMA assessments, E-Authentication status, and Privacy Impact Assessment status” (office of the assistance sec of the navy).

Each branch has an agency that controls these databases for example, the Air Force has the Air Force Communincations Agency (AFCA) AFNIC, the Army has the Installation Management Agency. These agencies moderate the certification & accreditation process. The IT Lean (aquisitions process) and the SISSU (security, interoperability, supportability, sustainability and usability) processes are integrated into the EITDR/DITPR-DON/APMS. Once you complete all the questions for you registered system, you will have accomplised complete SSAA, DIACAP, and even ISP packages.

For more information search the public.afca.af.mil (USAF). Everything you need to know is there. Also call or email AFCA/EV to learn more.
Army can go –>https://www.us.army.mil/suite/folder/4920492

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