Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Efficiencies in the O-TTPS Accreditation Program

One of the nice things about working with the OTTF and The Open Group TM in developing their O-TTPS Accreditation Program has been the emphasis that the forum members placed on efficiency within the program.

One of the major gripes in the IT assurance community is that we seem to do the same things over and over again.

That costs us precious resources, people, money and time and was pointed out by many of the members of the OTTF.

Mary Ann Davidson of Oracle, as usual, expressed the problem very well: "Doing the same thing twice or more unintentionally usually ends up with worse security as we use scarce resources on duplicative measures."

For developers, how many times do they really have to get their processes checked to see if, for example, they use an automated configuration management system, and that they have implemented access control for it. Such checks are made over and over again if they need to certify products under a variety of assessment programs.

For some of our customers, we have checked this close to a hundred times over the last decade.

Using the above example, the checks are made if a product from the developer needs FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria, O-TTPS assessment, etc., etc. It's both inefficient and expensive for the developers.
These overlaps are prevalent and extend to many of the organizations' processes, not just to configuration management.

Similarly, for mature IA assessment companies like atsec, we find that all of the various programs that we are involved with demand that we have certified management systems. The problem is that there are a variety of standards and a variety of certification programs to choose from.

In atsec's case, this has meant that we have to, across our small company of less than 100 people, to manage, endure and pay for many management system audits; It is a cost of our doing business, but a real pain in the... .

We have:
  • ISO/IEC 17025: 2 for NVLAP (don't ask!), BSI, FMV, and by ISCCC;
  • Technical competence audits: CMVP, NIAP, GSA, BSI, CSEC, O-TTPS;
  • PCI SSC: (not based on international standard);
  • ISO 9001 (Customer demand);
  • ISO/IEC 27001  (Customer demand);
  • and soon to ISO/IEC 17020.
None of the our auditors are allowed to accept the results from the others. Granted, each scheme requires a different technical competence, but our document and record control, HR, training, resource management, corrective and preventive actions, internal audit, calibration, etc. are the same for all of the programs to which we belong.

atsec customers can be assured that our management system is well audited!

.. back to the O-TTPS Accreditation Program: 

The forum saw the chance to try and address this issue: The notion of carefully reusing existing assurance was one of the factors we considered during each stage of developing the new O-TTPS Accreditation Program.

Here are some of the efficiencies that we identified and that the Accreditation Program has implemented:
  • The ability for O-TTPS assessors to reuse existing audit reports presented by the developer. These might include, where relevant, ISO 9001, security audits, Common Criteria site visits, etc.
    Note that there are some careful provisions, which are detailed in the Assessment Procedures.
  • Currently under development: The provision of mappings, allowing the work done for existing product certifications, such as Common Criteria, to be more easily mapped to the O-TTPS requirements.
  • For prospective Recognized Assessor companies and assessors, the ability to accept a variety of existing certifications of management systems and assessor qualifications that address the core skills needed as information assurance (IA) professionals. This allows The Open Group to concentrate only on the additional specialised skills needed for the O-TTPS accreditation program.
Although simple policies, they allow the program to be more efficient, reducing the overhead of unnecessary duplication, meaning that the costs of accreditation are not overburdened. These reduce the costs of assessment, to all parties involved: The Accreditation Authority, the Recognized Assessors and to the Organizations undergoing accreditation.

Not only that, but we can concentrate more on the important issue of integrity in the COTS ICT Supply Chains.

Thank you to the OTTF for living in the real world! :)

~ Fiona Pattinson

- "The Open Group" is a trademark of The Open Group

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