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CHIPS Articles: Enabling Warfighter Mission Assurance Through Effective Vulnerability Remediation

Enabling Warfighter Mission Assurance Through Effective Vulnerability Remediation
By Steve Muck - January-March 2007
A component of the DON Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Program is remediation of vulnerabilities identified by either an outside assessment team or as the result of a self-assessment conducted by the command. This is an integral part of Secretary of the Navy CIP Instruction 3501.1A and supports the Department of Defense Directive 3020.40, Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP). The following article describes a new DON CIP initiative in the area of remediation.

Providing vulnerability remediation training has been a goal of the Department of the Navy Critical Infrastructure Protection (DON CIP) Program for some time, a goal whose urgency has grown as the issues facing installation commanders have become more complex.

Funding, personnel, materiel, time — in some cases all of these — have made the decision of what and how to remediate difficult at best. In response, the DON CIP team has developed a Command Remediation Visit initiative that assists installation commanders in this area by providing on-site risk management based training and analytical guidance.

A major component of the Command Remediation Visit is the "Remediation: Analysis, Strategy and Action Plan (ASAP)" course, a training program developed specifically for DON regional and installation representatives.

Remediation training can occur at any time, but it is most effective when it occurs shortly after the completion of a vulnerability assessment. The first implementation of the CIP remediation initiative (at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Wash., in September 2006) followed this preferred protocol by occurring shortly after a Chief of Naval Operations Integrated Vulnerability Assessment (CNO IVA), which was completed in August.

The DON CIP team presented the Remediation: ASAP training course to 12 senior Navy and civilian staff representatives from NAS Whidbey Island and various tenant commands. The class focused on training the installation staff to utilize the course's disciplined remediation analysis processes (see Figure 1), which were applied to a sample of the vulnerabilities identified during the August CNO IVA.

This instruction enabled the staff to evaluate and prioritize assessment findings and the remediation options available for each vulnerability identified. A product of the training was a set of proposed courses of actions created by class participants for remediating the assessment's more significant vulnerabilities.

This set of actions was briefed by the NAS Whidbey Island Executive Officer, Cmdr. Dan Brown, to the Commanding Officer, Capt. Syd Abernethy.

An ongoing benefit is that with the understanding gained over two days of intense classroom training, the installation and tenant command staffs can now apply the Remediation: ASAP processes to the remaining assessment findings in order to develop a comprehensive remediation action plan.

Feedback from course participants was overwhelmingly positive, with most stating that their training experience produced a plan that was both viable and valuable. The structured methodology to work through vulnerabilities set the stage for implementation and gave users a tangible plan of action.

Reactions included comments such as: "The session encouraged out-of-the-box thinking that resulted in imaginative solutions ..."

"Using a cross-functional approach with non-subject matter experts having equal opportunity for input really helped us work toward smarter decisions …"

Capt. Abernethy said, "For us, it was a positive experience we would recommend to other installations."

Training Foundation and Key Tool: The Remediation Planning Guide

The CIP team developed the training from the concepts discussed in the DON Remediation Planning Guide, published in 2004 by the DON Chief Information Officer (CIO), as the DON Critical Infrastructure Assurance Officer (see Figure 2).

This planning document provides a methodology and plan of action that assists DON entities in developing vulnerability remediation strategies that balance resources and risk.

For example, the guide defines four factors critical to successful remediation, as shown in Figure 3: (1) procedures/policy; (2) an informed chain of command; (3) key personnel; and (4) a disciplined approach. The first three factors are controlled by the command.

The Remediation: ASAP training course provides the disciplined approach necessary to develop and implement a successful remediation plan.

The effectiveness of the approach taught within the course depends on the involvement of key installation and tenant command personnel, the support of an informed chain of command and a thorough understanding of the particular policies and procedures applicable to the installation.

The goal of successful remediation is to reduce vulnerabilities while achieving maximum return on investment and focusing limited resources on the most essential assets.

Remediation can provide proactive protection against criminal and natural acts that threaten to disrupt mission accomplishment. Because proper remediation may actually thwart or minimize the chances of a terrorist attack, it makes sense to "harden" those assets believed critical to the warfighter's mission through remediation actions.

The DON CIP Program's Command Remediation Visit initiative is a valuable tool that supports mission assurance by promoting effective remediation strategies and plans.

To access CIP policy and guidance, go to the DON CIO Web site at, click on the Project Teams tab, then click on Critical Infrastructure Protection.

Figure 1. Training focused on a disciplined approach.
Figure 1. Training focused on a disciplined approach.

Figure 2. DON Remediation Planning Guide.
Figure 2. DON Remediation Planning Guide.

Figure 3 illustrates the four factors that are critical to successful remediation within a disciplined approach.
Figure 3 illustrates the four factors that are critical to successful remediation within a disciplined approach.
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