Glossary

POA&M

The Digital Age has greatly improved the efficiency of business operations and boosted revenue for almost all industries involved. But this new Internet-based way of working has also brought with it some new challenges, particularly in the field of cybersecurity.

Organizations today work with sensitive data and processes daily and must handle the personal information of clients, partners, and internal staff members. Any threat of a data breach can have dire consequences on the reputation and legal standing of a company.

It’s become such a high priority that POA&M in cybersecurity (Plan of Actions and Milestones) is actually mandated by federal law under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. 

Let’s talk about this legislation, what it means for you, and the general importance of a well-defined POA&M process. 

POA&M

What Does the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 Cover?

The purpose of the Federal Information Security Management Act is to protect sensitive data in the United States government against cybersecurity attacks and natural disasters. Also known as FISMA, this legislation raised awareness of information security in an ever-evolving threat landscape. As the use of online technologies grew, it became clear that data security risk management standards must be set. The act specifically mandates:

  • Identifying information systems that require protection
  • Analyzing their risk levels through comprehensive assessment
  • Prioritizing them according to risk level
  • Implementing security controls
  • Ongoing monitoring and assessment of security posture

The intention of FISMA was to enforce information security standards, or the practice of protecting information systems from unauthorized access and use. The result is preventing sensitive data from being stolen and enforcing integrity.

What Is POA&M?

A plan of action and milestones, abbreviated as POA&M, constitutes all the methods and goals a business aims for when addressing cybersecurity weaknesses. These are part of FISMA’s rulings and are more essential than ever as digital threats continue to evolve and risk keeps rising every year.

POA&M is a component of both your cybersecurity and legal compliance procedures. It includes:

  • Allocating resources to execute your cybersecurity risk management plan
  • Setting milestones in your journey to improved digital security
  • Scheduling timeframes for those milestones to keep you on track

In other words, it’s the roadmap that you follow in addressing information security risks. Which tasks should be prioritized first? Which employees take on which roles and responsibilities? Questions like these are answered and shared with the rest of the business to make POA&M a company-wide effort.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Why Does POA&M Matter?

Having a plan of action in mind and milestones to achieve helps you set your compliance plan into motion. You’ll know earlier in the process what security controls you’ll need and which stakeholders must be involved to achieve your goals.

But even after you know how to track your progress on your journey to better information security, any action plan can potentially have mistakes in it; not everything goes according to plan out in the field. For this reason, POA&M allows you to identify security weaknesses and propose solutions flexibly.

How Does POA&M Contribute To Compliance?

Businesses usually record their plan of action and milestones in official documents. These files work well as part of the evidence to prove your legal compliance in case you have to prove your security posture for government contracts.

For instance, say you’re focused on adhering to a cybersecurity framework set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), POA&M documentation helps you track your progress toward it.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Related Content

Information Security Risk

Information Security Risk

Information technology is an excellent opportunity for businesses to increase their capabilities, but it’s also a…
Supply Chain Compliance

Supply Chain Compliance

A supply chain is a delicate structure composed of multiple companies, decision-makers, and suppliers all working…
Compliance Automation Software

Compliance Automation Software

Security and compliance have always been critical tasks in business operations, and management teams have always…