In an era where cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, the Department of Defense (DoD) has established a structured approach to safeguard its information systems—the Risk Management Framework (RMF). This framework is not just a protocol; it’s a cornerstone of the DoD’s cybersecurity strategy and is instrumental in supporting the national cybersecurity strategy and defense priorities. In this article, we’ll provide you with an overview of the DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF) and the steps involved for implementation.

Overview of the DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF)

The DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF) is an essential and structured process that effectively manages risks associated with operating information systems within the Department of Defense (DoD). Compliance with NIST SP 800-53 Rev. 5 guidelines is paramount for ensuring that information systems within the DoD adhere to standardized cybersecurity practices and effectively manage risks.

By providing a structured and methodical approach to managing risks associated with operating information systems, the RMF contributes to the overarching goal of fortifying the resilience of critical infrastructure and networks.

Steps Involved in the RMF Process

1. Prepare

The Prepare step is designed to conduct crucial risk management activities across various organizational levels, including the organization, mission, business process, and system. This is aimed at establishing context and equipping the organization to effectively handle its security and privacy risks using the Risk Management Framework.

2. Categorization of Information Systems

Categorization entails assessing the potential impact of a security breach and determining the impact level of the system. This step is crucial as it guides the selection of appropriate security controls tailored to the specific risks associated with the system.

3. Selection of Security Controls

This step involves identifying and implementing measures to address specific vulnerabilities and risks within the information system. It is imperative to select security controls that are well-suited to mitigate the identified risks effectively, ensuring comprehensive protection against potential cyber threats.

4. Implementation of Security Controls

The process of choosing and applying security and privacy controls mirrors the goals of information security and privacy programs and how these programs address their associated risks. Federal information security programs have the duty of safeguarding information and information systems against unauthorized activities or system behaviors, ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Additionally, these programs bear the responsibility of risk management and ensuring compliance with relevant security requirements.

5. Assess

The purpose of this step is to evaluate whether the controls are implemented accurately, functioning as intended, and achieving the desired outcomes in terms of meeting the security and privacy requirements for both the system and the organization.

6. Authorize

The aim of this step is to establish accountability by requiring a senior official to assess the acceptability of security and privacy risks associated with the operation of a system or the utilization of common controls. Then, a risk-based decision to authorize the system to operate (ATO) is granted.

7. Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring ensures that the security controls remain robust and compliant with cybersecurity standards, thereby contributing to the overall security posture of the Department of Defense.

Streamlined Services for DoD Risk Management Framework

The RMF accreditation process for defense contractors and integrators has historically encountered challenges and delays due to the manual review process, system hardening requirements, and the need for extensive documentation. These factors have contributed to prolonged timelines for achieving Authority to Operate (ATO) certification, thereby impacting the speed of deployment for critical defense technologies.

At SecureStrux, our DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF) service streamlines processes for our clients, providing tailored solutions at every stage. Our consultants help from the very early preparation phase with documenting your cybersecurity posture, and thorough security control implementation, testing and remediation support, until you achieve your authorization to operate. We even offer continuous monitoring support post-ATO. Explore SecureStrux’s comprehensive cybersecurity solutions and expert guidance today.



As a cybersecurity firm with deep roots in the Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity community, we provide specialized services in the areas of compliance, vulnerability management, cybersecurity strategies, and engineering solutions. Since 2013, we’ve partnered with hundreds of organizations within and outside the DoD to understand and proactively manage their risk. Our strength within the DoD has allowed us to easily translate best practices to our clients in other industries including Energy, Manufacturing, Architecture, Education, and Aerospace.

The latest in Cybersecurity

Enter your email to get the latest news, updates,
and content on cybersecurity.

"*" indicates required fields