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Upcoming Standards – SCAP ARF Support

Posted May 31, 2011    Morey Haber

The Assessment Results Format (ARF) language is a general Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) results reporting language developed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in conjunction with NIST and members of the SCAP vendor community. If you are unfamiliar with it, it provides a structured language for exchanging and exporting detailed, per-device assessment data between network assessment tools. ARF is intended to be used by vulnerability scanners, eXtensible Configuration Checklist Description Format (XCCDF) scanners, and other tools that collect detailed configuration data about IP enabled devices.

Simply, Asset Reporting Format (ARF) is a data model to express information about assets, and the relationships between assets and how to generate reports from the data. The standardized data model facilitates the reporting, correlating, and interoperability of asset information throughout environments and toolsets. ARF is a vendor neutral technology and one of the emerging standards for SCAP support. 

So why is this so important ? Consider the following use cases:

  1. Report the results of an assessment using SCAP content using a data stream defined by NIST 800-126. This provides a vehicle for SCAP scans to report data regardless of technology used to perform the assessment or configuration audit.
  2. Report the results of any device in a standard format by platform, configuration, patches, and/or vulnerabilities when no SCAP content is available. This provides a standardized reporting output from any tool, vulnerability assessment scanner  or even an asset inventory tool in the same format.
  3. Report the operational context metadata for any IT assets. This provides clarity into the assets operational runtime parameters and software in the same format.
  4. Collect all asset data in a central location and provide situational awareness reports based on any context.

The primary intent is to allow tools to become “best of breed” but allow the output to be generated in a single format such that data warehousing, reporting, and information integration can be achieved without supporting custom connectors and various proprietary data feeds. 

eEye’s Retina Network Security Scanner has already taken the first step to achieving this vision. Version 5.12.0 and higher now supports the ability to export SCAP content in ARF. When the draft specification of ARF 1.1 becomes certified eEye looks to incorporate the other use cases into the product and allow transparency for all exported data regardless of scan type. 

ARF is an emerging data standard that will enhance third party integrations and allow collaborative results to be shared and reported on between tools and vendors. eEye looks forward to this emerging data standard and our initial support of the draft specification. For more information on eEye and our support for SCAP or ARF, please click here.

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