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Federal Information Security Management Act

Definition

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a United States legislation passed in 2002 that outlines comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations and assets against natural or man-made threats. It establishes risk-based policies for federal computer systems and for the organizations that provide services for these systems. The Act also demands regular audits to ensure the effective implementation of each agency’s security plan.

Phonetic

The phonetic pronunciation of “Federal Information Security Management Act” is:”Fed-er-uhl In-for-may-shun Se-kewr-i-tee Man-ij-muhnt Akt”.

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is U.S. legislation that was enacted in 2002. It aims to protect government information, operations, and assets against natural or man-made threats.</li><li>FISMA requires every federal agency to develop, document, and implement an agency-wide program to provide information security for the information systems and data that support its operations and assets.</li><li>As part of FISMA, agencies are required to perform annual reviews of information security programs, with the intent of keeping risks at or below specified acceptable levels in a cost-effective, timely and efficient manner.</li></ol>

Importance

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is an important piece of legislation in the field of technology because it establishes a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations, and assets against natural or human threats. Passed in 2002, FISMA requires all federal agencies to develop, document, and implement an agency-wide program to provide information security for the information and systems that support the operations and assets of the agency, including those provided or managed by another agency, contractor, or other sources. Consequently, FISMA plays a key role in maintaining the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure, whilst ensuring the privacy of data and improving the overall performance and reliability of the federal systems.

Explanation

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a United States legislation that aims to strengthen information security across all federal agencies. It was established to address the escalating threats to the digital information resources of the Federal Government. The core purpose of FISMA is to enforce a framework that safeguards information systems to provide integrity, confidentiality, and availability of federal information. This ensures the protection of the federal government’s digital infrastructure from potential threats like cyber terrorism and online fraud.FISMA is used primarily for the quantification and mitigation of risks associated with the use, processing, storage, and transmission of information or data on federal information systems. It mandates that federal agencies implement a thorough information security program and conduct annual reviews of the program’s effectiveness. These security programs need to include measures like periodic risk assessments, policies and procedures based on these assessments, security awareness training, periodic testing and evaluation of security controls, and a process to handle and report security incidents. Essentially, FISMA works to ensure federal agencies’ accountability in maintaining robust and effective security controls.

Examples

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): The HHS was fined by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) for several security breaches where they failed to protect sensitive customer information sufficiently. This case illustrates how FISMA is being used to enforce cybersecurity measures in federal agencies, particularly those handling sensitive health information.2. The U.S. Department of Energy: The Department of Energy underwent a FISMA audit in 2016, which revealed that the department was not in full compliance with FISMA standards due to identified weaknesses in its information security program. This event sparked an improvement in the department’s security measures to meet the requirements of FISMA.3. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service): The IRS had been audited under the Federal Information Security Management Act, and the findings showed that they had failed in certain areas regarding information security management. Specifically, they were found to have insufficient network device management, which had led to many risks unmitigated. Following the audit, the IRS had to take action in rectifying the areas where they had not been found compliant with FISMA.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)?A: FISMA is a United States legislation that defines a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations and assets against natural or man-made threats. It was enacted in 2002 as part of the Electronic Government Act.Q: What is the main purpose of FISMA?A: The main purpose of FISMA is to provide a set of guidelines and standards aimed at enhancing the information security of federal agencies, and ensuring the privacy of personally identifiable information.Q: Who needs to comply with FISMA?A: All federal agencies, including state agencies administering federal programs such as Medicare, and any business or organization that has a contractual relationship with these agencies, must comply with FISMA.Q: How does FISMA impact federal agencies?A: FISMA requires federal agencies to implement an information security program that covers operations and assets, engage in yearly reviews of the program, and report on its effectiveness to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).Q: What are the key components of a FISMA compliance program?A: Key components of a FISMA compliance program include risk assessment, policy development, awareness training, system and process monitoring, incident response capabilities, and contingency planning.Q: How is FISMA compliance measured?A: FISMA compliance is measured through annual independent evaluations of an agency’s information security program and practices. The evaluations are conducted by the Inspector General or an independent external auditor.Q: What are the consequences of not complying with FISMA?A: Non-compliance with FISMA can result in various penalties, from reduced federal funding to reputational damage. Non-compliant agencies may also be more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.Q: Are there different levels of FISMA compliance?A: Yes, there are low, moderate, and high FISMA compliance levels that illustrate how much security is needed for a particular system based on its potential impact level. A high-impact system requires the strictest security measures. Q: Can FISMA compliance benefit an organization beyond compliance reasons?A: Yes, FISMA compliance can contribute to a more robust and secure IT infrastructure for any organization, enhance its reputation, and instill customer trust by demonstrating commitment to information security.

Related Finance Terms

  • Information System Security
  • Information Security Vulnerabilities
  • Federal Information System Standards
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence
  • Security Control Assessments

Sources for More Information

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