XCCDF (Extensible Configuration Checklist Description Format) is a specification language for writing security checklists, benchmarks and related types of documents. XCCDF is supported by the US National Security Agency’s Information Assurance Directorate, the Center for Internet Security and MITRE.
The specification is designed to support information interchange, document generation, organizational and situational tailoring, automated compliance testing and compliance scoring. It also defines a data model and format for storing results of benchmark compliance testing. XCCDF documents are expressed in XML and can be validated with an XML validating parser.
According to Chris Calabrese from the Center for Internet Security:
Every system administrator has local policies and standards that their systems are supposed to comply with, and there are many security-audit tools to check compliance. However, many of these tools don’t allow easy customization to local policy, or to drop in new third-party policy definitions. XCCDF is an XML-based format that addresses these problems by providing a unified way to describe:
- How software can evaluate systems for policy compliance using Mitre’s Open Vulnerability Assessment Language or similar schemes.
- How people and/or software can fix systems that don’t comply.
- How well a particular system conforms to a policy for reporting purposes.
NIST provides the lastest XCCDF specifications and related resources.
Benchmark Editor is a Java-based tool for XCCDF benchmark documents.