How are "security" requirements handled using NIEM?

The concept of "security" in information exchanges is a concept that requires further expansion. Security requirements can typically be categorized as authentication, authorization, information integrity and confidentiality. In the development of exchanges and/or services, security requirements should be documented during the design process for future implementation.

While NIEM provides structures that address some of these requirements, other national initiatives provide more comprehensive guidance on securing information exchanges.

The principal method for addressing security requirements in NIEM is through the use of the metadata mechanism. NIEM provides the metadata mechanism for "attaching" information about NIEM objects. A NIEM object may have an s:metadata attribute, which refers to one or more metadata objects. With the release of NIEM, all types and elements possess metadata attributes that facilitate the creation and use of metadata container elements that associate (with IDREF and ID type attributes s:metadata and s:id, respectively) any given metadata container to any given NIEM object. This mechanism provides great latitude in the development and use of security markings for any data object in NIEM.

One particular use of metadata to establish security markings is the Intelligence Community Information Security Marking (IC-ISM) standard. The IC-ISM is one of the Intelligence Community (IC) Metadata Standards for Information Assurance and is the preferred way to apply information security markings within XML instances. The current approach to using this standard in NIEM (through the use of s:metadata) and its future inclusion in NIEM is provided at www.niem.gov, in an article at http://reference.niem.gov/niem/guidance/using-ic-ism/icism-with-niem.pdf.

 

…Beyond NIEM Security: Global JRA, Global FIPM

Given that NIEM instances are implemented as a message payload, NIEM payloads are typically contained within service, messaging and transport technology standards implemented in XML. A number of security standards are provided at each of these layers that allow for the implementation of a complete broad security profile (e.g., authentication, authorization, information integrity and confidentiality).

The Global Justice Reference Architecture (JRA) initiative has incorporated a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) into the activities of all of the Global Working Groups. SOA addresses issues for security, privacy and information quality, and intelligence that have been given explicit attention and treated as part of a broad initiative within Global.

A Service Interaction Profile (SIP) is a concept identified by the Global JRA that defines an approach to meeting the basic requirements necessary for interaction between Service Consumers and Services in an SOA. This approach utilizes a cohesive or "natural" grouping of technologies, standards or techniques in meeting those basic interaction requirements. A SIP also addresses service interaction requirements such as security, reliability and availability. A Web Service description of a SIP has been outlined in the Global JRA Interaction Profile (WS SIP)" at http://www.it.ojp.gov/topic.jsp?topic_id=242.

The WS SIP is based on the Web Services family of technology standards. The WS-I Basic Security Profile (WS-I BSP) Version 1.0, WS-Security and the Security Assertion Markup Layer (SAML) security standards are provided in the WS SIP to address security requirements in a SOA implementation of NIEM.

In an effort to extend the Global information sharing concepts and initiatives into a Federated Identity environment, The Global Federated Identity and Privilege Management (GFIPM) initiative was launched. The Global Security Working Group (GSWG) provides oversight for the GFIPM initiative. In a similar fashion to the use of XML schema as the basis for defining a data vocabulary for data interoperability [NIEM], a standard set of XML security attributes about organization/agency and users' identities, privileges and authentication details was developed that could be used as the basis for a common "security" vocabulary across a federation. This common metadata, in the form of an assertion between systems, allows service providers to make independent data access and data privacy enforcement decisions based on their trust in the security assertions about users who are requesting access to specific data or data system resources.

The GFIPM Metadata Package 1.0 defines common semantics and structure for metadata describing federated users and federated entities (hosts, devices, services, etc.) essential to the GFIPM concept of information access across a federation. This metadata can be used in support of security components: identification, authentication, privilege management/access control/authorization, auditing and personalization across a federation. The encoding and transporting of GFIPM Metadata is accomplished through the use of Security Assertion Language (SAML) assertions, previously mentioned as a component of the JRA Web Service-Service Interaction Profile (SIP).

In summary, a host of security capabilities have been identified and can be implemented through the congruent use of the models and architectures developed through Global initiatives.