[ISN] ITL Bulletin for August 2005

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Aug 30 02:31:52 EDT 2005

Forwarded from: Elizabeth Lennon <elizabeth.lennon at nist.gov>



Shirley Radack, Editor
Computer Security Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Technology Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) has several efforts underway to
help federal agencies implement Federal Information Processing
Standard (FIPS) 201, Personal Identity Verification (PIV) of Federal
Employees and Contractors. The standard, which was approved by the
Secretary of Commerce in February 2005, supports improved security for
the forms of identification that are used to gain access to government
facilities and information.  Citing the need for better quality and
security of the processes for identifying individuals, Homeland
Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12, issued in August 2004,
called for the development of a mandatory, government-wide standard
for secure and reliable forms of identification for government
employees and contractors.

FIPS 201 specifies technical and operational requirements for
interoperable PIV systems that issue PIV cards as identification
credentials and that use the cards to authenticate an individual’s
identity. Authentication of an individual’s identity is an essential
component of secure access control to facilities and to information
systems.  NIST recently developed supplementary guidelines and
recommendations that support agencies in implementing the technical
and administrative requirements of FIPS 201. Some of these
publications are available in final form, and some are currently
available as draft documents that will be finalized in the near
future. To help agencies acquire PIV systems that correctly implement
FIPS 201, NIST has started a conformance testing program for the

Requirements for PIV Accreditation

In implementing FIPS 201, agencies must assure that the PIV cards
which are issued are secure and reliable means of identification, and
that the cards have been issued only by providers whose reliability
has been established by an official accreditation process. This
requirement for an accreditation process was included in HSPD 12,
Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and
Contractors. HSPD 12 affirmed the government’s requirements for a
common government-wide identification system to enhance security,
increase government efficiency, reduce identity fraud, and protect
personal privacy. The directive stated that secure and reliable forms
of identification should be:

* Based on sound criteria for verifying an individual's identity;

* Strongly resistant to identity fraud, tampering, counterfeiting, 
  and terrorist exploitation;

* Rapidly authenticated electronically; and

* Issued only by providers whose reliability has been established 
  by an official accreditation process.

NIST developed Special Publication (SP) 800-79, Guidelines for the
Certification and Accreditation of PIV Card Issuing Organizations, by
Dennis Branstad, Alicia Clay, and Joan Hash, to help agencies that are
preparing to issue PIV cards. The guidelines describe how to conduct
processes for assuring the reliability of the PIV card issuer (PCI).
The PCI may be a federal organization or a contractor that works under
the direction and authorization of a federal organization. The PCI
must be authorized by the head of an agency or department to perform
the services specified in FIPS 201 for identity proofing, for
enrolling approved applicants in the PIV system, and for issuing PIV
cards.  Applicants for these cards may be employees, future employees,
contractors, and guests. Each agency is expected to authorize at least
one PCI, but agencies may wish to cooperatively establish a joint PCI.
Large, dispersed organizations may establish several PCIs to provide
needed services in the various geographic areas that are served.

To assure the reliability of the PCI, NIST recommends that agencies
use certification and accreditation processes that have been employed
to assess the security of information systems. These recommended
processes have been detailed in NIST SP 800-37, Guide for the Security
Certification and Accreditation of Federal Information Systems, by Ron
Ross, Marianne Swanson, Gary Stoneburner, Stu Katzke, and Arnold
Johnson, and in NIST SP 800-53, Recommended Security Controls for
Federal Information Systems, by Ron Ross, Stu Katzke, Arnold Johnson,
Marianne Swanson, Gary Stoneburner, George Rogers, and Annabelle Lee.
The certification and accreditation processes defined in NIST SP
800-37 and in NIST SP 800-53 should be used to accredit the
information systems that are used by the PCI. In addition, NIST SP
800-79 outlines the processes that establish the reliability of the
PCI to provide the needed PIV services.

NIST SP 800-79 and the other special publications mentioned 
in this bulletin are available on NIST's web pages:


Links to information about the PIV program, including the standard,
supporting documents, answers to frequently asked questions, and
contact information are also available on NIST web pages:


Certification and Accreditation Processes

NIST SP 800-79 describes the fundamentals of PCI certification and
accreditation, including the roles and responsibilities of the key
participants of the PCI and the agency that it supports, the types of
accreditation decisions that can be made, and requirements for
supporting documentation. The required and desired attributes of the
PCI are explained, and methods are suggested for assessing the
presence of the attributes. The major functions, services, and
operations of PCIs are discussed. The appendices include a
comprehensive list of references, a list of definitions, acronyms,
summaries of tasks and subtasks to be carried out in the certification
and accreditation processes, and sample accreditation transmittal and
decision documents.

Agencies need complete, accurate, and trustworthy information about
their PCI in order to make informed decisions about whether to
accredit the PCI. Certification is the formal process for assessing
the attributes of the PCI to verify that the PCI is reliable and
capable of enrolling approved applicants and issuing PIV cards.  
Attributes include organization structure, policies, capabilities,
facilities, and availability, and methods of assessment including
interviews, document reviews, laboratory test results, procedure
evaluations, and component validation reports. Accreditation of a PCI
is the official management decision of a Designated Accreditation
Authority (DAA) to authorize operation of a PCI after that official
determines that the reliability of the PCI has been satisfactorily
established through appropriate assessment and certification

The recommended certification and accreditation processes are
conducted in four phases:

In the Initiation Phase, responsible agency officials prepare for
certification and accreditation by reviewing the PCI's operations plan
and confirming that the plan is consistent with FIPS 201, and that the
provided services and operations comply with the standard. The
resources needed for certification and accreditation are identified,
and a schedule and milestones are established. The operations plan is
analyzed and accepted.

In the Certification Phase, the agency officials determine whether
services and specifications required by FIPS 201 are provided and
whether they are implemented correctly and as intended. The officials
also determine if the requirements of the agency are being met by the
PCI. Needed actions are identified to correct any deficiencies that
are noted in the operations of the PCI in order to minimize risks and
mitigate vulnerabilities. When this phase is successfully completed,
the DAA should have the information that is needed to recommend an
appropriate accreditation decision.

In the Accreditation Phase, the DAA makes the decision whether to
accredit the PCI and completes the accreditation documentation. After
accreditation, the PCI is authorized to conduct the PCI services
defined in its operations plan, or to conduct the PCI services on an
interim basis under specific terms and conditions. Accreditation of
the PCI could also be denied.

In the Monitoring Phase, agency officials oversee and monitor the
operations of the PCI, and notify the DAA if there are changes that
affect the reliability of the PIV systems or its components. The
certification and accreditation processes should be conducted at least
every three years.

Implementation of Technical Requirements

FIPS 201 incorporates three technical publications that specify
interface and other technical requirements.

NIST SP 800-73, Interfaces for Personal Identity Verification, by
James F. Dray, Scott B. Guthery, and Teresa Schwarzhoff, specifies
interface requirements for retrieving and using identity credentials
from the PIV card. It specifies the PIV data model, card interface
requirements, and the Application Programming Interface. It designates
requirements when the standards that are applied include options and
branches. The goal is to assure that client application programs,
compliant card applications, and compliant integrated circuit cards
can be used interchangeably throughout federal agencies.

Two specifications are included in NIST SP 800-73. One is a
transitional card specification that is derived from the Government
Smart Card Interoperability Specification, which agencies with
existing identity card systems may continue to use as an optional and
intermediate step toward the government-wide uniformity and
interoperability specifications. These interoperability
specifications, designated as Part 2 card specifications in FIPS 201,
are to be used by agencies that do not have an existing PIV system.
The Part 2 specifications also may be used by those agencies that wish
to make the transition to uniformity and interoperability
specifications now. Part 2 provides details for the many components
and processes that will support a smart-card-based platform, including
the PIV card, and the card and biometric readers. The specifications
for PIV components support interoperability between components in
systems and enable the systems of different departments and agencies
to work together.

Draft NIST SP 800-76, Biometric Data Specification for Personal
Identity Verification, by Charles Wilson, Patrick Grother, and
Ramaswamy Chandramouli, helps federal agencies and implementers of PIV
systems to apply the technical specifications for biometric data that
are included in FIPS 201. This publication provides requirements for
capturing and formatting fingerprint and facial images information.  
It is based on voluntary industry standards, and provides the proper
selection when there are options in the standards that would interfere
with interoperability if implemented in different ways.  The goal is
to ease implementation, facilitate interoperability, and assure the
performance of PIV systems.

SP 800-78, Cryptographic Algorithms and Key Sizes for Personal
Identity Verification, by W. Timothy Polk, Donna F. Dodson, and
William E. Burr, provides the technical specifications for the
mandatory and optional cryptographic keys specified in FIPS 201. These
specifications support the PIV card, the infrastructure components
that manage the issuance and management of the PIV card, and
applications that rely on credentials used by the PIV card to provide
security services. The publication identifies symmetric and asymmetric
encryption algorithms, digital signature algorithms, and message
digest algorithms. Mechanisms are provided to identify the algorithms
associated with PIV cards or digital signatures.

Other NIST Special Publications that support the implementation of the
technical requirements of FIPS 201 include:

Draft NIST SP 800-85, PIV Middleware and PIV Card Application
Conformance Test Guidelines, by Ramaswamy Chandramouli, Levent
Eyuboglu, and Ketan Mehta, provides test plans, processes, and a test
suite that can be used to verify the conformance of PIV components to
the specifications contained in NIST SP 800-73. The conformance tests
for the interoperability of PIV middleware and PIV card applications
were developed to meet the overall interoperability goals of FIPS 201.

Draft NIST SP 800-87, Codes for the Identification of Federal and
Federally Assisted Organizations, by William C.  Barker and Hildegard
Ferraiolo, provides the organizational codes that are necessary to
establish the Federal Agency Smart Credential Number (FASC-N). This
number is included in the Card Holder-Unique Identifier (CHUID), one
of the specified requirements in FIPS 201. The CHUID identifies the
individual within the PIV system.

Designation of NIST Personal Identity Verification Program (NPIVP)
Test Facilities

Conformance tests are important to the correct implementation of FIPS
201. Since August 8, 2005, NIST has designated five organizations as
interim NIST Personal Identity Verification Program (NPIVP) test
facilities. The designated organizations include COACT, Inc. CAFÉ
Laboratory, InfoGard Laboratories, Inc., DOMUS IT Security Laboratory,
BKP Security Labs, and BT Cryptographic Module Testing Laboratory.
These organizations may employ NIST-provided test suites to validate
PIV components, subsystems, and integrated systems as required by FIPS
201 to meet the NPIVP requirements. Additional information regarding
the laboratories is available at http://csrc.nist.gov/cryptval/. NIST
expects to add other facilities to the list of NPIVP test facilities
in the near future. During the next year, the designated laboratories
will be assessed by NIST’s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation
Program (NVLAP) for accreditation for PIV testing. Once NVLAP
accreditation is achieved, the "Interim" designation will be removed.
Testing under the NPIVP will begin with a limited scope of tests based
on FIPS 201, but the scope of tests will be increased as the testing
program moves forward.

Other Government Activities Supporting the Implementation of FIPS 201

In August, the Office of Management and Budget issued a Memorandum for
the Heads of All Agencies and Departments (M-05-24), detailing the
steps that should be taken to implement FIPS 201 and HSPD 12. The
memorandum is available from the NIST web page
Some of the requirements include:

* Agencies and departments must adopt and accredit a registration
process consistent with identify proofing, registration, and
accreditation requirements of FIPS 201 for all new employees,
contractors, and other applicable individuals.  This process applying
to the new identity credentials issued must be established by October
27, 2005.  Background investigations, conducted as the National Agency
Check with Written Inquiries (NACI), should be initiated before the
issuance of credentials. All new contracts involving contractor access
to federal facilities and information must include requirements for
the application of FIPS 201 to contractor personnel.

* For all current employees, contractors, and other applicable
individuals, agencies and departments must develop a plan and start
the required background investigations. These activities also should
be established by October 27, 2005.

* By October 27, 2006, agencies and department must begin deploying
products and operational systems that are compliant with Parts 1 and 2
of FIPS 201 for all new employees and contractors. For current
employees, agencies and departments must phase in the issuance and use
of identity credentials that meet the standard by October 27, 2007.
Agencies and departments also must implement the technical
requirements of the standard in the areas of personal authentication,
access controls, and card management. Card authentication mechanisms
described in the standard should be used, and at least one digital
certificate should be used on the identity credential for access

* The General Services Administration will develop acquisition
services to enable agencies and departments to acquire products and
services that are interoperable to help agencies that are preparing to
issue PIV cards, and compliant with FIPS 201.

Future Needs

The efforts of agencies and department to implement FIPS 201 will help
to improve the security of federal facilities and information systems,
and will strengthen the trust in the credentials issued by all federal
organizations to their employees and contractors. To enable continued
effective implementation of the standard, NIST has identified other
needed guidelines, reference implementations, and conformance tests: *
Additional guidance on implementing and using the PIV system; *
Methods for protecting the personal privacy of all subscribers of the
PIV system; * Methods for authenticating identity source documents to
obtain the correct legal name of the person applying for a PIV card; *
Techniques for electronically obtaining and storing required biometric
data such as fingerprints and facial images from the PIV system
subscriber; * Techniques for creating a PIV card that is personalized
with data needed by the PIV system to later grant access to the
subscriber to federal facilities and information systems; * Ways to
assure appropriate levels of security for all applicable federal
applications; and * Methods to provide for interoperability among
federal organizations using the standard.

Any mention of commercial products or reference to commercial
organizations is for information only; it does not imply
recommendation or endorsement by NIST nor does it imply that the
products mentioned are necessarily the best available for the purpose.

Elizabeth B. Lennon
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8900
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8900
Telephone (301) 975-2832
Fax (301) 975-2378

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