CDM Updates to Reduce Latency, Improve Data Quality, Project Manager Reveals

As the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program prepares for minimum viable product launch for agency dashboards in April 2020 and gears up to deliver the minimum viable Federal dashboard later this year, the project is undergoing major updates to improve user experience.

According to CDM Dashboard Project Manager Judy Baltensperger, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is considering agency feedback to overhaul system capabilities, such as the addition the Elasticsearch search engine.

“Now that we’ve collected a lot of data – particularly cyber hygiene data, vulnerabilities – we’ve been enhancing that with threat intelligence. We would like to be able to search through all of that and just search through it faster, providing you more and better situational awareness,” she explained at an April 1 CDM Workshop.

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To further improve situational awareness, the CDM program also recognized the need to reduce the time between collecting the data and presenting it on the dashboard. The goal, Baltensperger said, has always been a 72-hour latency between raw data and Federal dashboard presentation, but CDM is exploring ways to speed that up.

The CDM program also implemented a user experience engagement team to continue collecting feedback on the minimum viable products as they are deployed.

“Your feedback will be fed back into our software development requirements process, where we will then make enhancements to the product based on your feedback,” Baltensperger explained.

The minimum viable products deliver simple features that can be improved over time based on feedback. This back-to-the-basics approach should reduce rework over time and, ultimately, foster a better understanding of the data that agencies can use to optimize security, Baltensperger said.

Baltensperger also recognized the importance of building trust in CDM data. By defining better data requirements and enabling system health monitoring, the program hopes to do that.

“We’re going to continue focusing on completeness and accuracy and timeliness, this is going to enable us to help you trust our data quality,” she asserted. “Additionally, we will be doing system health monitoring of our summary data, the Federal dashboard, to help discover discrepancies and anomalies.”

Baltensperger added that other efforts, such as continued engagement with CDM stakeholders and precise metrics for operational acceptance of CDM data, will aid the program’s goal of building back trust.

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