The Agriculture Security Operations Center (ASOC) is the leading source within USDA for cyber security oversight and practices. The ASOC’s mission is to secure the business of USDA by managing the risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, thereby protecting the agencies’ information technology service delivery to their constituencies and the American people. The ASOC is the cyber security watchdog for enterprise risk management and enterprise continuous monitoring.
The ASOC provides the Department-wide focal point for:
- communicating awareness to all the agencies on their security posture
- incident handling and response
- threat awareness
- becoming the USDA Center of Excellence for Cyber Security
The ASOC provides services under both non-emergency and emergency conditions in support of a common operating picture. The ASOC manages continuous security operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7). The ASOC maintains ongoing contact with USDA agency Security Operations Centers (SOC's), as well as other Federal operations centers to ensure comprehensive situational awareness. Events with potential cyber security impact are monitored. SOC Duty Officers are notified directly when a reasonable probability of an incident exists. ASOC and SOC personnel are responsible for alerting their respective chain of command, and for reacting to contain and mitigate each incident.
The ASOC monitors and protects USDA systems by keeping abreast of new threats to both existing and new technologies, and continually monitoring the USDA information technology enterprise to ensure USDA Agencies and Offices computing environments remain secure. The ASOC manages the Secure Stack Array (SSA), a comprehensive, cohesive and centralized departmental information security operations and technical services infrastructure that addresses critical security functions in near real time. The SSA enables the ASOC to cost effectively leverage resources critical to managing the departmental security posture across the entire USDA IT enterprise infrastructure. The support provided by the ASOC includes:
- Coordinating the handling of critical security incidents
- Interfacing with external security and intelligence organizations
- Advising on security standards and architecture
- Issuing guidance on emerging technologies
- Overseeing the execution of the funded security initiatives
The USDA IT enterprise infrastructure is under constant attack from a diverse mix of sophisticated, dynamic and well-funded cyber threats. Advanced technologies and techniques are utilized to target information and data that are critical to the USDA business functions and mission. Every employee and IT device is now a potential point of entry for a security breach. The ASOC partners with USDA agencies and offices to align its technology, security and compliance services with their business goals and operating requirements appropriate to protect mission-critical assets and information. Providing these services allows agency management to focus its resources on departmental programs that are critical to securing our country’s diverse food, agriculture, rural and natural resources.