The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released new Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks today, completing a vital assignment from President Biden’s Cybersecurity executive order (EO).

The playbooks set operational procedures for Federal civilian executive branch (FCEB) agencies that experience cybersecurity vulnerabilities or incidents.

“FCEB agencies should use the playbooks to shape their overall defensive cyber operations,” CISA said in a release announcing the playbooks. “The playbooks apply to information systems used or operated by an FCEB agency, a contractor of the agency, or another organization on behalf of the agency.”

CISA released two combined playbooks: one on vulnerability response and the other on cybersecurity incident responses. The playbooks include both decision trees for each playbook as well as step-by-step mitigation and remediation guides for each.

“Working together across all federal government organizations has proven to be an effective model for addressing vulnerabilities and incidents,” the playbooks’ overview says. “Building on lessons learned from previous incidents and incorporating industry best practices, CISA intends for these playbooks to evolve the federal government’s practices for cybersecurity response through standardizing shared practices that bring together the best people and processes to drive coordinated actions.”

The 43-page document sets a course of action for any response activities that are originated by either a Federal agency or CISA and standardizes practices that will guide analysis and discovery, facilitate better coordination among affected parties, enable CISA to track successful cross-organizational operations and allow for incident cataloging.

The playbooks should help bolster Federal security posture in the event agencies experience new vulnerabilities or cyber incidents. CISA also recently released a Binding Operational Directive with cataloged and risk-ordered vulnerabilities that Federal agencies are required to remediate. Taken together the playbooks and BOD allow for remediation of currently known vulnerabilities and a plan of action for any future ones.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.