Information Security Marking Access

Information Security Marking Access

Chief Information Officer

IC Technical Specifications

Information Security Marking Access


This Access Control Encoding Specification for Information Security Markings (ISM.ACES) defines detailed implementation guidance for providing access to documents based on ISM data. This Access Control Encoding Specification (ACES) defines the use of combinational logic between data and user/entity attributes. This logic is intended to be used in the decisional process of access control decisions based on XML elements and attributes that represent Information Security Markings (ISM) data concepts and the associated user attributes.


The ISM.ACES specification furthers IC Enterprise goals by codifying mappings and combinational logic between data attributes and user/entity attributes to facilitate consistent enterprise-wide Boolean access decisions. Historically, access control decisions have been made in local environments based on local interpretations of agreements and policies resulting in decisions that are not uniform across the entire enterprise. ISM.ACES hopes to reduce the need for such local interpretations and further the goal of improving data exchanges and processing of information by documenting and encoding the enterprise interpretation. ISM.ACES provides both abstract and concrete guidance for making access control decisions. The generic abstract guidance is intended to be used in various contexts for making informed access decision logic, but it is the goal of ISM.ACES to also provide concrete guidance in appendixes or separate annexes for certain contexts.


The presence of ISM data attributes within a data asset specifies that the data asset be controlled by the rules in this ACES and any contextually relevant annexes of this document. This ACES has no need to express information beyond what is already expressed in the ISM attributes. As such, no specific Need-to-Know (NTK) Profile is necessary. This specification describes the mapping of dissemination related data attributes to a user's/person's attributes or a Non-Person Entity’s (NPE's) accreditation that are determined to be sufficient for access and can be used to make informed available and accurate dissemination decisions.


The IC Chief Information Officer maintains this specification via the Data Coordination Activity (DCA) and Entity Specification Tiger Team (ESTT).


Technical Specification Downloads

Latest Approved Public Release:



Mission Requirements


This specification depends on the LATEST technically sound, approved version of XML Data Encoding Specification for Information Security Marking Metadata (ISM.XML)


This specification is designed to fulfill a number of requirements in support of the transformational efforts of the Intelligence Community. Many of these requirements are articulated in IC Directives 208, 209, 500-20, 500-21, 501, 710,and ICPM) - 2007-200-2 among others.


This specification is designed to support the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) Increment 1 Implementation Plan.


This specification supports common understanding and use of access control encoding for originator controlled mappings to enable overall information sharing strategies and policies of the IC as established in relevant law, policy, and directives.