What is a FISMA Audit?

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a United States legislation, enacted as part of the Electronic Government Act of 2002. FISMA’s intent is to protect government information and assets from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of information and information systems. FISMA is the law; NIST Special Publication 800-53, Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, is the standard that contains the individual security controls required to comply with FISMA.

To comply with FISMA, organizations must first determine the security category of their information system in accordance with FIPS 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems, derive the information system impact level from the security category in accordance with FIPS 200, and then apply the appropriately tailored set of baseline security controls in NIST Special Publication 800-53. This allows organizations to tailor the relevant security control baseline so that it more closely aligns with their mission and business requirements and environments of operation. Certification is achieved when an Authorization to Operate (ATO) is signed by a federal agency’s senior management official.