AC-4: Information Flow Enforcement


2019-05-20 15:48:11.984914




The information system enforces approved authorizations for controlling the flow of information within the system and between interconnected systems based on [Assignment: organization-defined information flow control policies].

Additional Guidance

Information flow control regulates where information is allowed to travel within an information system and between information systems (as opposed to who is allowed to access the information) and without explicit regard to subsequent accesses to that information. Flow control restrictions include, for example, keeping export-controlled information from being transmitted in the clear to the Internet, blocking outside traffic that claims to be from within the organization, restricting web requests to the Internet that are not from the internal web proxy server, and limiting information transfers between organizations based on data structures and content. Transferring information between information systems representing different security domains with different security policies introduces risk that such transfers violate one or more domain security policies. In such situations, information owners/stewards provide guidance at designated policy enforcement points between interconnected systems. Organizations consider mandating specific architectural solutions when required to enforce specific security policies. Enforcement includes, for example: (i) prohibiting information transfers between interconnected systems (i.e., allowing access only); (ii) employing hardware mechanisms to enforce one-way information flows; and (iii) implementing trustworthy regrading mechanisms to reassign security attributes and security labels. Organizations commonly employ information flow control policies and enforcement mechanisms to control the flow of information between designated sources and destinations (e.g., networks, individuals, and devices) within information systems and between interconnected systems. Flow control is based on the characteristics of the information and/or the information path. Enforcement occurs, for example, in boundary protection devices (e.g., gateways, routers, guards, encrypted tunnels, firewalls) that employ rule sets or establish configuration settings that restrict information system services, provide a packet-filtering capability based on header information, or message-filtering capability based on message content (e.g., implementing key word searches or using document characteristics). Organizations also consider the trustworthiness of filtering/inspection mechanisms (i.e., hardware, firmware, and software components) that are critical to information flow enforcement. Control enhancements 3 through 22 primarily address cross-domain solution needs which focus on more advanced filtering techniques, in-depth analysis, and stronger flow enforcement mechanisms implemented in cross-domain products, for example, high-assurance guards. Such capabilities are generally not available in commercial off-the-shelf information technology products.