OMB to agencies: Lock down those DNS servers

The Office of Management and Budget will soon require agencies to configure their Doman Name System (DNS) servers to the security specifications set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

OMB will issue a memo outlining the new policy shortly, according to Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for electronic government and information technology.

The policy will roughly follow DNS security guidelines already published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to Evans. The guidelines, published in NIST Special Publication 800-81 and titled "Secure Domain Name System (DNS) Deployment Guide," broadly recommend that agencies:
  • Implement system and network security controls to secure their DNS hosting environments, including operating system and application patching, process isolation and network fault tolerance
  • Protect DNS transactions such as DNS name resolution updates and data replications on DNS nodes within agencies' control using hash-based message authentication codes based on shared secrets
  • Protect ubiquitous DNS query/response transactions involving any DNS node on the global Internet using digital signatures based on asymmetric cryptography, and
  • Enforce content control of DNS name resolution data using sets of integrity constraints that properly balance the integrity and performance of the DNS system.


The policy will require agencies to examine the hierarchy of their domains and 'decide who is in and who is out,' Evans said Tuesday at a conference co-sponsored by Topside Consulting and 1105 Government Information Group, publisher of GCN, Federal Computer Week, and other publications.

OMB, in cooperation with the General Services Administration, is also preparing a Policy Utilization Assessment tool that will become a service offered by GSA. The service will survey a statistical sampling of an agency's computers and issue a report on the percentage of systems that comply with OMB's IT directives, Evans said.

Also at the conference, Randal Vickers, associate deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Readiness Team (US-CERT), said that DHS and the General Services Administration are working with the five telecom service providers on the Networx contracts to prepare data transport services that comply with OMB's Trusted Internet Connection initiative. DHS plans to define the requirements of the service for GSA by June 15 with the goal of placing TIC-compliant services on the providers' service schedules by Nov. 15, Vickers said.

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