Navigating the Authorization to Operate Process with RedSeal

The Authorization to Operate (ATO) is a critical component in the security architecture of the DoD and IC, ensuring that systems operate with a recognized and accepted level of risk. This process underscores the rigorous standards that these systems must meet to safeguard national security effectively. RedSeal can significantly assist system owners, Information System Security Officers (ISSOs), and Information Systems Security Managers (ISSMs) in obtaining and maintaining an Authorization to Operate (ATO) for systems within environments such as the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Intelligence Community (IC).

How RedSeal can support each phase of the ATO process:


Step 1: Preparation & categorization

RedSeal function: Assists in network discovery and asset identification, crucial for system categorization.

Benefit: Ensures the system categorization reflects the real operational environment, helping to select appropriate security controls.


Step 2: Segment & implementation

RedSeal function: Provides insights into network vulnerabilities and security gaps.

Benefit: Helps ensure the implemented controls are adequately addressing the identified risks, making the system more secure and compliant.


Step 3: Assessment of controls

RedSeal function: Facilitates continuous vulnerability assessments and compliance checks against security policies.

Benefit: Provides detailed documentation and reports that can be used during the security control assessment phase.


Step 4: Authorization decision

RedSeal function: Offers comprehensive security metrics and risk scores that summarize the security posture of the network.

Benefit: Enables AOs to make informed risk-based decisions regarding the ATO, supported by empirical data on the network’s security readiness.


Step 5: Continuous monitoring

RedSeal function: Continuously monitors the network for changes that might affect security postures.

Benefit: Helps maintain ongoing ATO compliance by ensuring that any changes or updates to the system do not introduce new risks.


Step 6: Incident response preparedness

RedSeal function: Simulates potential attack paths and prioritizes remediation efforts based on the risk to critical assets.

Benefit: Enhances the incident response strategy, which is a critical component of the continuous monitoring and operational resilience required for ATO maintenance.


Step 7: Reporting & documentation

RedSeal function: Generates detailed reports and visualizations of network compliance, security postures, and risk assessments.

Benefit: Reports are integral to the documentation required for ATO audits and reviews, providing clear evidence of compliance and proactive security management.


By leveraging RedSeal’s capabilities, system owners, ISSOs, and ISSMs can effectively manage the lifecycle of an ATO—from initial authorization through continuous compliance monitoring. RedSeal’s tools help streamline the process, reduce the complexity of compliance, and enhance the overall security posture of the systems, thereby supporting the critical requirements of ATO maintenance in high-security environments.


Download our Navigating the ATO Process datasheet today.