By William Jackson
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing a
system of standardized measurements to evaluate the impact of security
configurations on operating systems and applications.
"Each security configuration decision can have positive and negative
effects of varying degrees to the security of a host," NIST's draft
document states. "Without a standardized way to quantify these effects,
organizations cannot easily make sound decisions as to how each security
issue should be addressed, nor can they quantitatively determine the
overall security strength or weakness for a host."
The draft  of "Interagency Report 7502: The Common Configuration
Scoring System" has been released for public comment.
The report proposes a set of measures for security configuration issues
and a formula to combine those measures into scores for each issue,
collectively called the Common Configuration Scoring System (CCSS). It
is derived from the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) for
measuring the relative severity of vulnerabilities caused by software
flaws. CCSS adjusts the basic components of CVSS to focus on security
configuration issues rather than software flaws.
Initially, CCSS addresses only configuration issues that are constant
over time and environments. It deals with how readily a weakness could
be exploited and how exploitation could affect hosts. Those
characteristics are base metrics, and they are the inputs into the
equation that calculates a base score.
NIST plans to expand CCSS to include environmental metrics, which
represent characteristics unique to a particular environment.
Comments on the draft of CCSS should be e-mailed by July 3 to
IR7502comments (at) nist.gov with "Comments IR 7502" in the subject
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