Binding Operational Directive 23-01 – CISA

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October 3, 2022
This page contains a web-friendly version of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Binding Operational Directive 23-01 – Improving Asset Visibility and Vulnerability Detection on Federal Networks.
A binding operational directive is a compulsory direction to federal, executive branch, departments and agencies for purposes of safeguarding federal information and information systems. 44 U.S.C. § 3552(b)(1). Section 3553(b)(2) of title 44, U.S. Code, authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop and oversee the implementation of binding operational directives. Federal agencies are required to comply with these directives. 44 U.S.C. § 3554(a)(1)(B)(ii). These directives do not apply to statutorily defined “national security systems” or to certain systems operated by the Department of Defense or the Intelligence Community. 44 U.S.C. § 3553(b), (d), (e)(2), (e)(3). This directive refers to the systems to which it applies as “Federal Civilian Executive Branch” systems, and to agencies operating those systems as “Federal Civilian Executive Branch” agencies.
Continuous and comprehensive asset visibility is a basic pre-condition for any organization to effectively manage cybersecurity risk. Accurate and up-to-date accounting of assets residing on federal networks is also critical for CISA to effectively manage cybersecurity for the Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) enterprise.
The purpose of this Binding Operational Directive is to make measurable progress toward enhancing visibility into agency assets and associated vulnerabilities. While the requirements in this Directive are not sufficient for comprehensive, modern cyber defense operations, they are an important step to address current visibility challenges at the component, agency, and FCEB enterprise level. The requirements of this Directive focus on two core activities essential to improving operational visibility for a successful cybersecurity program: asset discovery and vulnerability enumeration.
Discovery of assets and vulnerabilities can be achieved through a variety of means, including active scanning, passive flow monitoring, querying logs, or in the case of software defined infrastructure, API query. Many agencies’ existing Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) implementations leverage such means to make progress toward intended levels of visibility. Asset visibility is not an end in itself, but is necessary for updates, configuration management, and other security and lifecycle management activities that significantly reduce cybersecurity risk, along with exigent activities like vulnerability remediation. The goal of this Directive is for agencies to comprehensively achieve the following outcomes without prescribing how to do so:
Agencies may request CISA’s assistance in conducting an engineering survey to baseline current asset management capabilities. CISA will work with requesting agencies to provide technical and program assistance to resolve gaps, optimize scanning, and support achieving the required actions in this Directive.
This Directive’s requirements advance the priorities set forth in the Executive Order 14028 on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, specifically Sec. 7 (Improving Detection of Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Incidents on Federal Government Networks), and provide operational clarity in achieving policy set forth in previous OMB Memoranda, including M-21-02, M-22-05, and M-22-09. Compliance with this Directive also supports BOD 22-01, Managing Unacceptable Risk Vulnerabilities in Federal Enterprise, as it will enable agencies to enhance the management of known exploited vulnerabilities that can be detected using automated tools.
These required actions apply to any FCEB unclassified federal information system, including any federal information system used or operated by another entity on behalf of an agency, that collects, processes, stores, transmits, disseminates, or otherwise maintains agency information.
This Directive applies to all IP-addressable networked assets that can be reached over IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. For the purpose of this directive, an IP-addressable networked asset is defined as any reportable (i.e., non-ephemeral) information technology or operational technology asset that is assigned an IPv4 or IPv6 address and accessible over IPv4 or IPv6 networks, regardless of the environment it operates in. The scope includes, but is not limited to, servers and workstations, virtual machines, routers and switches, firewalls, network appliances, and network printers — whether in on-premises, roaming, and cloud operated deployment models. The scope excludes ephemeral assets, such as containers and third-party-managed software as a service (SaaS) solutions.
The purpose of the Implementation Guidance document is to help federal agencies interpret and implement CISA’s Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 23-01. While the primary audience for this document is Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies, other entities may find the content useful. At a minimum, CISA expects FCEB agencies to meet or exceed the guidance in this document. The guidance seeks to answer the most common questions asked by federal agencies. CISA will update this document with commonly asked questions and as new information becomes available.
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