July 18, 2023

DoD Compliance + DoD Configuration Management: How to Get Compliant with Less Effort

Security & Compliance

DoD compliance is a set of rules and expectations for IT cybersecurity in organizations that do business with the US Department of Defense (DoD). Discover everything you need to know about DoD compliance and DoD configuration management in this blog – plus how to manage DoD compliance better and faster with Puppet.

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What is DoD Compliance?

DoD compliance is the ability to meet all of the IT compliance requirements set by the US Department of Defense (DoD), including DISA STIGs, CMMC, RMF, and others.

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DoD Compliance Standards, Frameworks + Rules to Know

The DoD uses several standards and guidelines for IT systems and cybersecurity. 

A Puppet premium extension bakes common security recommendations into your baselines and enforces them automatically. Learn more about Compliance Enforcement >>

Your level of DoD compliance depends on your ability to comply with these frameworks and guidelines. Here are a few DoD compliance guidelines that may apply to your organization:

  • Defense Information Security Agency Security Technical Implementation Guides (DISA STIGs): DISA STIGs are rules that specify IT system security measures for government and defense agencies. DISA STIGs can also apply to contractors and vendors that work with the DoD.
  • Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC): CMMC is a framework that assesses the cybersecurity capabilities of defense contractors and certifies them by levels of effectiveness.
  • Risk Management Framework (RMF): DoD 8510.01 is concerned with authorizing systems to manage cybersecurity risk in DoD IT. RMF provides a framework for categorizing systems, guidance on roles and responsibilities, and implementing security controls.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): DoD compliance has adopted the standards of NIST, including NIST SP 800-53 and NIST SP 800-171. These special publications govern aspects of cybersecurity including data protection, security controls, and more.
  • The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS): DFARS is a 2015 set of cybersecurity regulations the DoD imposes on DoD contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers. Among other rules, DFARS requires that contractors identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with the DoD systems and data they have access to.
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Why DoD Compliance is a Challenge for Most Contractors, Vendors + Suppliers

Organizations that do business with the DoD often find themselves stuck when it comes to DoD compliance. That’s because DoD compliance isn’t just one more ‘thing’ to check off. It’s an essential part of doing business with government defense agencies, and it’s always changing.

  • DoD compliance gives you a lot of boxes to check. DoD compliance is a complex web of policies, instructions, regulations, guidelines, and frameworks. Just knowing which ones apply to your organization can be daunting in itself.
  • DoD compliance is constantly evolving. Like most cybersecurity standards and compliance expectations, DoD compliance is frequently updated to address the latest emerging cybersecurity threats and incorporate best practices.
  • Few compliance frameworks actually tell you what to do. Most compliance frameworks aren’t strictly instructional. Rather than laying out specific steps to take to get compliant, many are simply benchmarks for what counts as a compliant state. That makes getting compliant especially difficult for DoD contractors who aren’t sure about their current level of compliance or where to start.
  • Compliance configuration can be costly. Compliance is a resource-intensive process – especially for small- to mid-sized DoD contractors and suppliers. These organizations usually have limited funding and staff to spend on compliance tasks (like compliance documentation and configuration management).
  • DoD compliance is high-stakes. If your organization is found to be non-compliant with DoD cybersecurity rules, you could lose more than money. The penalties of non-compliance with DoD compliance regulations can include contract termination, blacklisting, financial penalties, reputational damage, loss of security clearance, and even legal action.
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What is DoD Configuration Management?

DoD configuration management is the process of configuring IT (like infrastructure, systems, software, and networks) to reach and maintain DoD compliance.

DoD configuration management includes tasks like establishing a baseline configuration, verifying and auditing configurations, documenting configurations, and documenting/managing changes over time to prove DoD compliance.

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How to Achieve DoD Compliance with Configuration Management

Use Automation to Enforce Compliant Configurations

IT teams can often feel like they are chasing compliance, introducing more risk as they attempt to write remedial code. They depend on the security and the compliance team to run scans before they can approach remediation. This can lead to expensive delays. At the same time, DoD infrastructure and regulations are incredibly complex.

Each new system brought into a network consumes valuable resources. It can be extremely time-consuming to determine which benchmarks apply to which systems, depending on the operating system (OS), role, version, or environment. This process involves various IT teams, including security and/or compliance teams who must validate the reference system and create complex reports which then must be interpreted by the operations team to determine the root cause of the issue.

Maintaining every server at 100 percent compliance would break other applications and services, leading to exceptions for specific system controls. Tracking all of those workarounds manually and reconciling them against each scan report is time-consuming and delays the development process.

Use Puppet for DoD Compliance

Puppet Comply and Compliance Enforcement create a trusted posture that allows IT operations teams to update once and deploy everywhere to:

  • Streamline the process of deploying new systems by establishing DISA STIGs as code
  • Access remediation status immediately with intelligent continuous compliance
  • Ensure compliance estate-wide with enterprise features such as dashboards, dynamic reports, and configurable exception handling
  • Maintain continuous compliance and audit readiness by understanding and addressing compliance status in real-time

Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for DoD agencies that need to ensure a continuously secure state in compliance with mandates like DISA STIGs.

Learn more about Puppet for government >>

Puppet Compliance Enforcement provides self-enforcing policy as code that reduces the staff hours and network resources needed to add and enforce the STIGs compliance of each new system. 
Puppet Comply and Compliance Enforcement give operations teams the tools they need to:

  • Eliminate manual tasks and possible interpretation errors by automatically scanning, enforcing, and remediating desired states as defined by DISA STIGs
  • Limit overall costs by streamlining and combining the processes involved with finding and rapidly fixing compliance issues
  • Expedite time to value by continuously reinforcing the desired state for new system deployments
  • Reduce the team’s learning curve using one proven enterprise DoD solution

Puppet Enterprise, Puppet Comply, and CEM deliver the tools DoD agencies need to free their staff to focus on more high-value projects, streamlining deployment of the systems that move them closer to mission success.

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Why Use Puppet for DoD Compliance + Configuration Management?

More than 50% of US federal cabinet departments and 70% of contractors use Puppet, including many of the largest branches of government.

Puppet Compliance Enforcement packages are aligned to DISA STIGs, which were built to safeguard critical security systems and data against a dynamic threat environment. But with hundreds of STIGs requirements that change regularly, staying on top of DISA STIGs as part of DoD compliance is an ongoing challenge. Together with Puppet Comply, Compliance Enforcement leverages Puppet’s powerful configuration management capabilities to automatically remediate drift and other configuration changes that could throw you out of DISA STIG compliance.

Puppet by Perforce has proven expertise in secure, mission-critical programs such as DCSG-A and deploying across large-scale environments. The Puppet team also manages these modules and updates them as STIGs are updated and changed, allowing users to focus solely on their infrastructure compliance.

Not using Puppet Enterprise for public sector automation yet? Get started with your free trial today, or schedule a demo of Puppet Enterprise, Puppet Comply, and Compliance Enforcement with our team.


This blog was originally published on October 24, 2022, and has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.

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