Monday, February 3, 2014

atsec and supply chain security

Supply chain assurance: mitigate the threats of counterfeit and tainted products, globally. Quite a challenge!

To do that we'd need some of the best subject matter experts in the world.

Build a new industry-led open standard and an assessment program that can demonstrate to integrators and acquirers of COTS ICT products that their providers are Trusted Technology ProvidersTM and who can demonstrate that they follow industry best practices in mitigating the threats of counterfeit and maliciously tainted products.

Yes! We need some experts...

atsec has been working closely with The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) since it began in late 2010. For the last three years we've been dedicating a great many hours, alongside our OTTF colleagues with representatives from providers, acquirers and assessors, all working together to progress an  industry vision for an open voluntary standard and an associated accreditation program for trusted technology in relation to supply chain security.

Together, the OTTF have worked very hard.

We developed and published a white paper, a snapshot of the standard, and the O-TTPS standard itself. We have collaborated, presented and harmonized.

We have looked for and found consensus amongst many key organizations. It took blood, sweat and tears!
  • We worked with some of the major names in the I.T. industry for security assurance, including many of the major global players in the industry.
  • We worked with governments around the world. 
  • We worked amongst a time of change within (U.S.) government agencies.

Believe me, finding consensus in such a diverse and knowledgeable set of people was never going to be an easy task!

Finally, we have been working hard on an Accreditation Program and piloting the model in real world assessments. This way we had the chance to iron out some of the wrinkles before the accreditation program became public.

Well, the launch of the assessment program is finally here: February 3rd, 2014; three years after we began work. A short eternity perhaps, but an era that has demonstrated a great achievement.

As atsec worked with the pilots for the accreditation program we had the experience of training and qualifying our assessor teams in. We drew from those with experience in testing,evaluating and of course assessing. Here is a quote from Courtney Cavness, one of our process assessment experts:
"Working as an Assessor on this pilot was a tremendous learning experience. I enjoyed applying my previous audit/evaluation experience to this new standard to help refine and enhance both the standard and the accreditation program."

Another of our senior assessors, King Ables, said  that: 

"This important new standard fills a gap in the spectrum of assurance measures available to product developers and end users. As an early Recognized Assessor, atsec participated in a pilot assessment to "test drive" the standard. This pilot allowed us to gain practical experience with O-TTPS as well as to provide suggestions for improvements based on our other security assessment experience."

The new Accreditation Program, which has been running in pilot mode since last year, already has  one completed accreditation under its belt. An achievement not to be sneezed at!

atsec thanks IBM for the opportunity to participate in the pilot phase and for assigning some of their senior experts in the field to the project which helped the project go very smoothly. 

For a list of  completed and approved accreditations, and their scope's see The Open Group's accreditation register.

Well known and global Trusted Technology Providers have placed enough credence in the program to actively participate; and two respected assessor companies in the field of information assurance also invested in helping to develop and test the program and are the first "Recognized Assessors" working with The Open Group's O-TTPS independent Accreditation Authority to help providers "Build with Integrity" which then allows their acquirer and integrator customers to "Buy with Confidence."

With wide across-the-board participation in the OTTF, we heard a very important message: resources available for providing assurance are scarce and nobody wants to do or pay more than once for the same thing. I believe that the Accreditation Program has incorporated this requirement. It allows for appropriate re-use of assurance already gained.

The OTTF are continuing to work hard on this topic, forging appropriate alliances in the field of information security and information assurance.

Of course it remains to be seen if the program will engender enough trust and confidence to be useful assurance for those eager to have it, but so far all the indications are that it will.

Fiona Pattinson

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