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Extensible Configuration Checklist Description Format (XCCDF) is an XML format used to specify security checklists, configuration documentation and benchmarks, and was intended to support interchange of information, organizational and situational tailoring, document generation, compliance scoring and compliance testing. It is used as a unified standard so that the above documents and configuration settings and files can be interchangeable, allowing for easy customization and replacement.
The Extensible Configuration Checklist Description Format was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as it was tasked to develop a checklist that would set forth option selections and settings that minimize the security risks inherent with the computer hardware and software systems that the federal government is likely to use.
The XCCDF represents a structured collection of security configuration rules meant for specific systems and the specification itself was designed specifically for information interchange, the generation of related documents, automated compliance testing (especially in relation to security), compliance testing and compliance scoring. It also defines the format and data model used for storing the results of the benchmark compliance testing. Its main purpose is the creation of a uniform foundation for expressing benchmarks, security checklists and other configuration guidance, and as a direct result fosters the widespread adoption of good security practices.
XCCDF documents use the XML format and can therefore be validated or tested using an XML schema-validating parser.