National Vulnerability Database

National Vulnerability Database

National Vulnerability
Database

NIST Special Publication 800-53 (Rev. 4)

Security Controls and Assessment Procedures for Federal Information Systems and Organizations

SC-3 SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION

Family:
SC - SYSTEM AND COMMUNICATIONS PROTECTION
Class:
Priority:
P1 - Implement P1 security controls first.
Baseline Allocation:
Low Moderate High
N/A N/A SC-3

Control Description

The information system isolates security functions from nonsecurity functions.

Supplemental Guidance

The information system isolates security functions from nonsecurity functions by means of an isolation boundary (implemented via partitions and domains). Such isolation controls access to and protects the integrity of the hardware, software, and firmware that perform those security functions. Information systems implement code separation (i.e., separation of security functions from nonsecurity functions) in a number of ways, including, for example, through the provision of security kernels via processor rings or processor modes. For non-kernel code, security function isolation is often achieved through file system protections that serve to protect the code on disk, and address space protections that protect executing code. Information systems restrict access to security functions through the use of access control mechanisms and by implementing least privilege capabilities. While the ideal is for all of the code within the security function isolation boundary to only contain security-relevant code, it is sometimes necessary to include nonsecurity functions within the isolation boundary as an exception.

Related to: AC-3AC-6SA-4SA-5SA-8SA-13SC-2SC-7SC-39

Control Enhancements

SC-3(1) SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION | HARDWARE SEPARATION
The information system utilizes underlying hardware separation mechanisms to implement security function isolation.
Supplemental Guidance: Underlying hardware separation mechanisms include, for example, hardware ring architectures, commonly implemented within microprocessors, and hardware-enforced address segmentation used to support logically distinct storage objects with separate attributes (i.e., readable, writeable).
SC-3(2) SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION | ACCESS / FLOW CONTROL FUNCTIONS
The information system isolates security functions enforcing access and information flow control from nonsecurity functions and from other security functions.
Supplemental Guidance: Security function isolation occurs as a result of implementation; the functions can still be scanned and monitored. Security functions that are potentially isolated from access and flow control enforcement functions include, for example, auditing, intrusion detection, and anti-virus functions.
SC-3(3) SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION | MINIMIZE NONSECURITY FUNCTIONALITY
The organization minimizes the number of nonsecurity functions included within the isolation boundary containing security functions.
Supplemental Guidance: In those instances where it is not feasible to achieve strict isolation of nonsecurity functions from security functions, it is necessary to take actions to minimize the nonsecurity-relevant functions within the security function boundary. Nonsecurity functions contained within the isolation boundary are considered security-relevant because errors or maliciousness in such software, by virtue of being within the boundary, can impact the security functions of organizational information systems. The design objective is that the specific portions of information systems providing information security are of minimal size/complexity. Minimizing the number of nonsecurity functions in the security-relevant components of information systems allows designers and implementers to focus only on those functions which are necessary to provide the desired security capability (typically access enforcement). By minimizing nonsecurity functions within the isolation boundaries, the amount of code that must be trusted to enforce security policies is reduced, thus contributing to understandability.
SC-3(4) SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION | MODULE COUPLING AND COHESIVENESS
The organization implements security functions as largely independent modules that maximize internal cohesiveness within modules and minimize coupling between modules.
Supplemental Guidance: The reduction in inter-module interactions helps to constrain security functions and to manage complexity. The concepts of coupling and cohesion are important with respect to modularity in software design. Coupling refers to the dependencies that one module has on other modules. Cohesion refers to the relationship between the different functions within a particular module. Good software engineering practices rely on modular decomposition, layering, and minimization to reduce and manage complexity, thus producing software modules that are highly cohesive and loosely coupled.
SC-3(5) SECURITY FUNCTION ISOLATION | LAYERED STRUCTURES
The organization implements security functions as a layered structure minimizing interactions between layers of the design and avoiding any dependence by lower layers on the functionality or correctness of higher layers.
Supplemental Guidance: The implementation of layered structures with minimized interactions among security functions and non-looping layers (i.e., lower-layer functions do not depend on higher-layer functions) further enables the isolation of security functions and management of complexity.

References

None.