Tools to get desktops in line

Agencies should get their configuration experts ready.Now that the Office of Management and Budget released a set of tools to implement the Microsoft Windows standard desktop configuration (SDC), technical and repeatable experience is key to success.Experts suggest agencies set up a SWAT team to go around to each part of the agency to test and install the baseline operating system.OMB finally released the SDC last week and the tools to implement it after nearly a three-month delay. The tools include a virtual machine that will let agencies test their software against the standard configuration.The downloadable software (csrc.nist.gov/fdcc/) is a virtualization container with either a full implementation of Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 or Vista. Both versions are configured to OMB's Federal Desktop Core Configuration. Agencies can install their own software within the virtual instance of Windows to check and correct incompatibilities.'Agencies need to set up SWAT teams and plan for this, using what the Air Force learned and what Microsoft described in the tools,' said Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute. The Air Force deployed a standard configuration for Windows XP last year.'The SWAT team would show all network administrators how to run tools, and the administrators should sit next to them as they run the tools,' he said.Paller said the tools are difficult to use the first time but get easier with each subsequent use, which is the reason for a SWAT team that will test and implement them repeatedly.In addition to the test copies, the FDCC Web site also includes technical information and a section of frequently asked questions.The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Defense and Homeland Security departments, and Microsoft collaborated to develop these virtual machines.'OMB, NIST and Microsoft took all the uncertainty out of implementing a secure desktop and provided step-by-step guidance to help test and implement the SDC,' Paller said. 'They announced tools that will monitor your system to find out where the problems with your applications will arise. It also provided tools that test to see if your system is in compliance and tools that fix applications so most of them don't break. It was really a great day.'In March, OMB called for agencies to use a central configuration for Windows desktop computers by Feb. 1, 2008, to improve security and reduce maintenance costs.In addition to having these virtual machines for testing, agencies will also soon have the Security Content Automation Protocol (S-CAP), a NIST-developed protocol that describes in Extensible Markup Language the configuration guidance and benchmarks.'Your agency can now acquire information technology products that are self-asserted by information technology providers as compliant with the Windows XP and Vista FDCC and use NIST's S-CAP to help evaluate providers' self-assertions,' wrote Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, in a memo announcing the release of the tools. 'Information technology providers must use S-CAP-validated tools, as they become available, to certify their products operate effectively under these configurations, and agencies must use these tools when monitoring use of these configurations.'Microsoft plans to make images of an FDCC-configured Windows available for download on its own site.'The first thing agencies need to do is meet with their head of procurement and say, If you don't get the proper language into your contracts we will have massive pain to implement the SDC',' Paller said. 'The second thing is find a way to tell all suppliers that you cannot buy anything if they don't provide certification. That is what will take the pain away over time.'He said agencies should then run the monitoring program on a few apps through the virtual machine to figure how it works. 'That is SWAT team training,' he said.

QUALITY TESTING: OMB's Karen Evans directed agencies to use NIST's Security Content Automation Protocol to evaluate products for compliance.

Photo by Matthew Borkoski

































NEXT STORY: Perception vs. reality in security

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.