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OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Audit Report
Information Security Series:
Security Practices
Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and
Liability Information System
Report No. 2006-P-00019
March 28, 2006

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Report Contributors:
Rudolph M. Brevard
Charles Dade
Neven Morcos
Jefferson Gilkeson
Scott Sammons
Abbreviations
ASSERT
Automated Security Self-Evaluation and Remediation Tracking
C&A
Certification and Accreditation
CERCLIS
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability

Information System
EPA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
FISMA
Federal Information Security Management Act
NCC
National Computer Center
OIG
Office of Inspector General
OMB
Office of Management and Budget
OSWER
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
POA&M
Plan of Action and Milestones
RTP
Research Triangle Park

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
2006-P-00019
March 28, 2006
Why We Did This Review
As part of our annual audit of
the Environmental Protection
Agency's compliance with the
Federal Information Security
Management Act (FISMA), we
reviewed the security practices
for a sample of key Agency
information systems, including
the Comprehensive
Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability
Information System
(CERCLIS).
Background
FISMA requires agencies to
develop policies and
procedures commensurate with
the risk and magnitude of harm
resulting from the malicious or
unintentional damage to the
Agency's information assets.
CERCLIS provides critical
information in support of the
Superfund program (a Federal
mandate to clean up the
Nation's uncontrolled
hazardous waste sites).
For further information, contact
our Office of Congressional and
Public Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
www.epa.qov/oiq/reports/2006/
20060328-2006-P-00019.pdf
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Information Security Series: Security Practices
Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Information System
What We Found
The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response's (OSWER's) implemented
practices to ensure production servers were being monitored for known
vulnerabilities and personnel with significant security responsibility completed the
Agency's recommended specialized security training. However, we found that
OSWER's CERCLIS, a major application, was operating without a current (1)
certification and accreditation package and (2) contingency plan or testing of the
plan. OSWER officials could have discovered the noted deficiencies had they
implemented practices to ensure these Federal and Agency information security
requirements were followed. As a result, CERCLIS had security control weaknesses
that could effect OSWER's operations, assets, and personnel.
What We Recommend
We recommend that the CERCLIS System Owner:
r Conduct an independent review of security controls and a full formal risk
assessment of CERCLIS and update the certification and accreditation package in
accordance with Federal and Agency requirements,
y Conduct a test of the updated CERCLIS contingency plan, and
> Develop a Plan of Action and Milestones in the Agency's security weakness
tracking system (ASSERT database) for all noted deficiencies.
We recommend that the OSWER Information Security Officer:
r Conduct a review of OSWER's current information security oversight processes
and implement identified process improvements.
OSWER agreed with the report's findings and has indicated that it has updated the
CERCLIS security plan and re-authorized the application. OSWER officials also
indicated that they updated the CERCLIS contingency plan and conducted a tabletop
exercise of the updated plan. OSWER's complete response in included at
Appendix A.

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I	\	UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
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OFFICE OF
INSPECTOR GENERAL
March 28, 2006
MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT:
Information Security Series: Security Practices
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Information System
Report No. 2006-P-00019
FROM:
Rudolph M. Brevard /s/
Director, Information Technology Audits
TO:
Susan Parker Bodine
Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response
This is our final report on the information security controls audit of the Office of Solid Waste
and Emergency Response's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and
Liability Information System. This audit report contains findings that describe problems the
Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified and corrective actions the OIG recommends.
This audit report represents the opinion of the OIG, and the findings in this audit report do not
necessarily represent the final U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) position. EPA
managers, in accordance with established EPA audit resolution procedures, will make final
determinations on matters in this audit report.
Action Required
In accordance with EPA Manual 2750, you are required to provide a written response to this
report within 90 calendar days of the date of this report. You should include a corrective action
plan for agreed upon actions, including milestone dates. We have no objection to further release
of this report to the public. For your convenience, this report will be available at
http://www.epa.gov/oig.
If you or your staff have any questions regarding this report, please contact me at
(202) 566-0893.

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	Table of Contents	
At a Glance
Purpose of Audit		1
Background		1
Scope and Methodology		2
CERCLIS' Compliance with Federal and Agency Security Requirements 		3
Certification and Accreditation		4
Contingency Planning		4
Recommendations		5
Agency Comments and OIG Evaluation		5
Appendices
A Agency Response to Draft Report	 6
B Distribution	 9

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Purpose of Audit
Our objective was to determine whether the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency
Response's (OSWER's) Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) complied with
Federal and Agency information system security requirements. CERCLIS
provides critical information and processing in support of the Superfund program
(a Federal mandate to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites).
Background
We conducted this audit pursuant to Title III of the E-Government Act of 2002,
commonly referred to as the Federal Information Security Management Act
(FISMA). FISMA requires the Agency to develop policies and procedures
commensurate with the risk and magnitude of harm resulting from the malicious
or unintentional damage to the Agency's information assets. EPA's Chief
Information Officer is responsible for establishing and overseeing an Agency-
wide program to ensure that the security of its network infrastructure is consistent
with these requirements. Program offices are responsible for managing the
implementation of these security requirements within their respective
organizations.
Program offices should create a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) when it
identifies a security control weakness. The POA&M, which documents the
planned remediation process, is recorded in the Agency's Automated Security
Self-Evaluation and Remediation Tracking (ASSERT) tool. ASSERT is used to
centrally track remediation of weaknesses associated with information systems
and serves as the Agency's official record for POA&M activity.
FISMA requires the Inspector General, along with the EPA Administrator, to
report annually to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the status of
EPA's information security program. The OIG provided the results of its review
to OMB in Report No. 2006-S-00001, Federal Information Security Management
Act, Fiscal Year 2005 Status of EPA's Computer Security Program, issued
October 3, 2005.
During our annual FISMA review, we selected one major application from each
of five EPA program offices and reviewed the security practices surrounding
those applications. Our review noted instances where EPA could improve its
security practices overall and the OIG reported the results to EPA's Chief
Information Officer in Report No. 2006-P-00002, EPA Could Improve Its
Information Security by Strengthening Verification and Validation Processes,
issued October 17, 2005.
This audit report is one in a series of reports being issued to the five program
offices that had an application reviewed. This report addresses findings and
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recommendations related to information security practice weaknesses identified in
OSWER. In particular, this report summarizes our results regarding how
OSWER implemented Federal and EPA information security requirements. This
report also includes our evaluation of how OSWER implemented, tested, and
evaluated information security controls to ensure continued compliance with
Federal and Agency requirements for selected security objectives. The Scope and
Methodology section contains the specific security objectives we audited.
Scope and Methodology
We conducted our field work from March 2005 to July 2005 at EPA Headquarters
in Washington, DC, and the National Computer Center (NCC) in Research
Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina. We interviewed Agency officials at both
locations and contract employees at the NCC. We reviewed relevant Federal and
Agency information security standards. We reviewed application security
documentation to determine whether it complied with selected standards. We
reviewed system configuration settings and conducted vulnerability testing of
servers for known vulnerabilities. We reviewed training records for personnel
with significant security responsibilities.
We reviewed the following security practices for CERCLIS:
	Security Certification and Accreditation (C&A) practices: We
reviewed CERCLIS' C&A package to determine whether the security
plan was updated and re-approved at least every 3 years and the
application was reauthorized at least every 3 years, as required by OMB
Circular A-130 and EPA policy.
	Application contingency plans: We reviewed CERCLIS' contingency
planning practices to determine whether OSWER complied with
requirements outlined in EPA Directive 2195A1 (EPA Information
Security Manual), National Institute of Standards and Technology
Special Publication 800-34 (Contingency Planning Guide for
Information Technology Systems), and EPA procedures document
Procedures for Implementing Federal Information Technology Security
Guidance and Best Practices.
	Security controls: We identified two areas of security controls: (1)
system vulnerability monitoring, which included conducting
vulnerability testing; and (2) physical access controls. The NCC
manages the servers that run the CERCLIS application and provides the
primary security controls for the application. Therefore, when
evaluating system vulnerability monitoring, we evaluated practices at the
NCC. We did not test physical security controls at the NCC, because the
NCC was undergoing an audit of these controls at the time of our
review. This audit found instances where EPA could improve its
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physical controls at RTP and reported the results in Report No.
2006-P-00005, EPA Could Improve Physical Access and Service
Continuity/ Contingency Controls for Financial and Mixed-Financial
Systems Located at its Research Triangle Park Campus, issued
December 14, 2005.
	Annual Training Requirements: We reviewed whether employees
with significant security responsibilities satisfied annual training
requirements.
We conducted this audit in accordance with Government Auditing Standards,
issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.
CERCLIS' Compliance with Federal and Agency Security
Requirements
We noted CERCLIS' production servers were being monitored for known
vulnerabilities and personnel with significant security responsibility had
completed the Agency's recommended specialized security training. However,
our audit (1) disclosed that CERCLIS had deficiencies related to other significant
security practices, and (2) highlighted areas where OSWER should place more
emphasis to comply with established requirements. In particular, our review
noted that CERCLIS contained security weaknesses in the following areas:
	The C&A package - consisting of a security plan, a third-party risk
assessment, and a written authorization for operation - had not been
updated in response to recent major system changes.
	The contingency plan had not been updated and tested in response to
recent major system changes.
Preparing and maintaining an updated C&A package are vital in helping
management determine whether effective security controls are in place and work
as intended to operate an application. Updating and testing the contingency plan
assist management in determining whether the organization could recover from a
disruption in service. These two important security controls help ensure the
Agency's network infrastructure is adequately protected. These widely
recognized preventive controls aid in reducing the likelihood that security
incidents will occur, and by not emphasizing these key security controls, OSWER
places the integrity and availability of CERCLIS at risk. In response to these
findings, OSWER officials indicated that they have updated the CERCLIS
security and contingency plans and have conducted a tabletop exercise of the
updated contingency plan.
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Certification and Accreditation
Our audit revealed that the CERCLIS system owners had not updated the
application security plan, risk assessment, and authorization for operation related
to a recent major change in processing, as required by Federal and Agency policy.
During our audit, we determined that CERCLIS had undergone a major change in
processing. Specifically, CERCLIS changed from a decentralized application
(distributed throughout EPA Headquarters and 10 EPA regional offices) to a
centralized application (hosted by the NCC in RTP). However, we found that the
CERCLIS security plan and risk assessment had not been updated, and the system
had not been re-authorized for operation related to this "major change" in
processing.
Senior OSWER officials use these key C&A security documents to make the
decision about whether CERCLIS' security controls are sufficient and if
adjustments to security controls are necessary before reaccrediting (reauthorizing)
CERCLIS for continued operation. In addition, the assessment of risk and the
development of system security plans are important activities in the Agency's
information security program that directly support security accreditation
(management's authorization for system operation). OSWER officials indicated
that they have since updated CERCLIS' security plan to reflect these major
system changes and re-authorized the application. OSWER also indicated that the
CERCLIS Team Leader would make a determination when the next risk
assessment is to be scheduled.
Contingency Planning
Although OSWER had developed and tested a contingency plan for CERCLIS,
the program office had not updated the plan to reflect major changes made to the
system. In audit Report No. 2006-P-00005, the OIG reported that CERCLIS'
contingency plan did not identify critical resources needed during an outage. The
OIG was unable to determine whether contracts were in place for the restoration
of the application. In response to this finding, OSWER officials indicated that
they conducted a tabletop exercise of CERCLIS in September 2005. However,
OSWER officials did not indicate when the office would test the new plan.
Although OSWER conducted the tabletop exercise, Federal requirements specify
that exercises and tests should be conducted to ensure that the procedures
continue to be effective. In addition, testing of the plan would enable OSWER to
become familiar with the necessary recovery steps and help management identify
where additional emphasis is needed. OSWER officials indicated that the
CERCLIS contingency plan had since been updated to reflect the changes to the
application's operating environment and completed another tabletop review of the
new plan in December 2005.
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Recommendations
We recommend that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
and Liability Information System (CERLIS) System Owner:
1.	Conduct an independent review of security controls and a full formal risk
assessment of CERCLIS and update the certification and accreditation
package in accordance with Federal and Agency requirements,
2.	Conduct a test of the updated CERCLIS contingency plan, and
3.	Develop a Plan of Action and Milestones in the Agency's security
weakness tracking system (ASSERT database) for all noted deficiencies.
We recommend that the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
(OSWER) Information Security Officer:
4.	Conduct a review of OSWER's current information security oversight
processes and implement identified process improvements.
Agency Comments and OIG Evaluation
OSWER concurred with many of the report's findings and indicated that the
office took or planned steps to remediate the identified weaknesses. OSWER also
provided additional details regarding its processes for maintaining the CERCLIS
contingency plan and we modified the report to remove the recommendation to
develop and implement a plan to maintain the contingency plan. OSWER also
indicated that based on actions already taken, no further Plan of Action and
Milestones are needed. However, given the resources required to complete the
risk assessment and to test a contingency plan, we feel OSWER should record
these significant security-planning activities in the Agency's security tracking
system. OSWER's complete response is included as Appendix A.
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Appendix A
Agency Response to Draft Report
March 2, 2006
MEMORANDUM:
SUBJECT:
FROM:
TO:
OSWER Response to Audit Report:
Information Security Series: Security Practices of the Comprehensive
Environmental Response Compensation Liability Information System
(CERCLIS)/Assignment No: 2005-000661
Susan Parker Bodine/s/
Assistant Administrator
Rudolph M. Brevard
Director, Information Technology Audits
Office of Inspector General
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the audit report on Information Security
Series: Security Practices of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation
Liability Information System (CERCLIS). We appreciate your efforts to ensure the Agency is in
compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) by conducting
annual audits of our applications. This memorandum addresses the accuracy of the audit report
and identifies the corrective actions already initiated to ensure compliance.
RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATIONS:
The system owner has provided the following information in response to your recommendations:
1. Update the CERCLIS certification and accreditation package in accordance with Federal and
Agency requirements by ensuring that (1) the Security Plan is up to date, (2) an independent
review of security controls and a full formal risk assessment are performed, and (3) management
formally reauthorizes CERCLIS for operation.
The Security plan was updated and signed by the certifying official on 12/23/05 and by the
authorizing official on 02/01/06.
The management, operational and technical security controls for the CERCLIS application are
tested for effectiveness on a regular basis. The most recent review and independent tests for
effectiveness of security controls were conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton, with a report
delivered to EPA in February 2004. The risk assessment included documentation reviews,
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manual and automated assessments of both computer hardware and software, which support the
CERCLIS application. The risk assessment involved evaluating management, technical, and
administrative controls already implemented. The elements of risk (threat, vulnerability,
countermeasures, and impact) were evaluated as well.
In addition to the risk assessment, CERCLIS performs weekly and monthly reviews of all audit
reports and logs. User accounts are reviewed quarterly to ensure accounts are valid. A
determination is made regarding access to the system based on pre-determined roles and
user/member groups. Accounts are reviewed to ensure users have taken the required annual
security training. Accounts are deleted if they have not been active within ninety days.
Consequences for violating access privileges and the Rules of Behavior are taken seriously; user
ids are removed or suspended for violations. Quarterly reviews of management and operational
controls are a part of the standard operating procedures for the CERCLIS application.
CERCLIS is moving away from performing a major risk assessment every three years to
continuous monitoring of the application. Areas of focus are the management and control of its
hardware, and performing security impact analysis. The agency has several IT security tools
approved for use, licensed by EPA and available to Information Security Officers, System
Administrators, and Local Area Network (LAN) Managers and Administrators to help protect IT
assets. The CERCLIS Team Leader will make a determination when the next risk assessment is
to be scheduled.
2.	Conduct a test of the updated CERCLIS contingency plan.
OSRTI conducted the recommended test of the updated CERCLIS contingency plan on
December 17, 2005.
3.	Develop and implement a process to test and maintain the CERCLIS contingency plan. The
process should ensure the plan is tested at least annually and that the plan is updated whenever
significant changes occur to the system, supported business processes, key personnel, or to the
contingency plan itself.
Over the past year, the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation (OSRTI)
has worked closely with EPA's National Computing Center (NCC) to centralize the CERCLIS
Regional databases. As a follow-up to this work, the Contingency Plan for CERCLIS was
revised in September 2005. Furthermore, a coordinated effort with the NCC has taken place to
perform a table-top review of the CERCLIS application. The tabletop review was tested with
participation and concurrence by the NCC on December 17, 2005. In complying with Agency
standards, OSRTI has used the two National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
documents which focus specifically on contingency planning and testing. The first NIST
document (NIST 800-84, Guide to Single-Organization IT Exercises) describes the procedures
for the table-top review. The second document (NIST 800-34, Contingency Planning Guide for
Information Technology Systems) describes in detail how to write a Contingency Plan.
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4.	Develop a Plan of Action and Milestone in the Agency's security weakness tracking system
(ASSERT database) for all noted deficiencies.
Based on actions already taken as noted above, no further action is required because the noted
deficiencies have been addressed.
5.	Develop and implement a plan to re-evaluate system security oversight processes to ensure the
above recommendations are uniformly applied to all general support systems and major
applications within OSWER.
The OSWER Information Security Officer (ISO), in coordination with and supported by the
Senior Information Official (SIO) and Information Management Officer (IMO), oversees a
coordinated review of all OSWER systems annually with ongoing monitoring of major security
milestones throughout the year. OSWER uses the Agency's ASSERT System to manage this
process. Self-assessments occur annually and Plan of Actions and Milestones are generated to
ensure changes or needed processes are addressed. OSWER's security status, as recorded in
ASSERT, is independently audited by the Office of Environmental Information.
Please feel free to contact Robert King at 703.603.8792 or William Bushee at 703.603.8963, if
you have any questions or need additional information.
cc: Renee Wynn
Kevin Phelps
Paula Rodriguez
Michael B. Cook
Joan Harrigan-Farrelly
Patricia Gowland
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Appendix B
Distribution
Office of the Administrator
Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Acting Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information
Acting Director, Technology and Information Security Staff
Audit Followup Coordinator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Audit Followup Coordinator, Technology and Information Security Staff
Agency Followup Official (the CFO)
Agency Followup Coordinator
General Counsel
Associate Administrator for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
Associate Administrator for Public Affairs
Acting Inspector General
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