March 12, 2019

How Navigating FISMA Compliance for macOS Can Be Simple

With the use of macOS devices increasing, Mac security and compliance with different standards is becoming more important than ever. One hot-button compliance standard that organizations using macOS devices may need to contend with is FISMA.

What is FISMA? How does following it help your organization? What can you do to achieve FISMA compliance for macOS?

What is FISMA?

FISMA, or the Federal Information Security Management Act, is a piece of U.S. legislation that was signed into law in 2002. As noted by TechTarget:

“FISMA assigns responsibilities to various agencies to ensure the security of data in the federal government. The act requires program officials, and the head of each agency, to conduct 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. The National Institute of Standards and Technology ( NIST ) outlines nine steps toward compliance with FISMA:

  1. Categorize the information to be protected.
  2. Select minimum baseline controls.
  3. Refine controls using a risk assessment procedure.
  4. Document the controls in the system security plan.
  5. Implement security controls in appropriate information systems.
  6. Assess the effectiveness of the security controls once they have been implemented.
  7. Determine agency-level risk to the mission or business case.
  8. Authorize the information system for processing.
  9. Monitor the security controls on a continuous basis.”

What Are the Benefits of FISMA Compliance?

FISMA is a regulatory standard meant for organizations that work with the federal government. So, if you aren’t a part of the federal government, why would you want to work towards achieving FISMA compliance?

One reason is that compliance with FISMA guidelines does help your organization better protect its most sensitive data. As noted by the Digital Guardian, “Continuous monitoring for FISMA compliance provides agencies with the information they need to maintain a high level of security and eliminate vulnerabilities in a timely and cost-effective manner.”

Another important reason is the potential to work as an independent company on a government contract at some point in the future. Maintaining FISMA compliance for macOS devices in your company can help you pass the cybersecurity audits necessary to take on government contracts. If the choice for a government contract is between your company and another competitor, being FISMA-compliant may provide you with a competitive advantage on your bid.

How Can You Achieve FISMA Compliance for Macs in Your Organization?

The nine steps listed in the TechTarget article provide a basic outline of how an organization might work to achieve FISMA compliance, but how can you complete each of those steps? Kandji for macOS can help your organization complete several of the steps for FISMA compliance for your business’ Macs by:

  1. Making It Easy to Select Security Settings. Kandji for macOS enables one-click security controls without the need for any custom coding. This helps you select and implement your baseline security controls with ease—completing steps two and five of the FISMA compliance outline listed above.

  2. Providing a Centralized Dashboard to View macOS Device Security Status. Kandji features a centralized dashboard for admin-level users that tracks the total number of computers, highlights which ones are currently compliant with security settings, which ones need remediation, and which ones are currently offline. It also tracks how many remediations there have been on a month-to-month basis, highlighting the effectiveness of your security measures. This helps you monitor your security controls, assess their effectiveness, and make informed decisions for refining security controls moving forward—completing steps three, six, and nine of the FISMA compliance outline listed above.

  3. Establish Role-Based Security Blueprints. Kandji allows admins to create security blueprints that collect a range of different security settings into a single profile that can be immediately applied to any new macOS devices on the network. Multiple blueprints can be created for different roles in the organization as appropriate to their specific needs. This helps both with the deployment of security rules to new devices and with the documentation of security procedures since every blueprint can be reviewed from the Kandji platform. This helps meet steps four and five of the FISMA compliance outline listed above.


What About Steps One, Seven, and Eight?

Categorizing the information that needs to be protected and determining the agency-level risk to the mission or business case are both activities that should take place before you start applying security settings to your macOS devices. Knowing which information is the most important to protect and why helps you prioritize your security measures, which is crucial.

Authorizing information systems for processing requires more than just having the right security settings enabled—it also requires you to perform detailed checks of the information system prior to implementation.

Curious about how Kandji can help you achieve FISMA compliance for macOS devices? Try it out on up to 10 Macs at no cost to you now!

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