A First Step in Securing the Global Technology Supply Chain: Introducing The Open Group Trusted Technology Provider Framework Whitepaper

By Andras Szakal, IBM

Nearly two months ago, we announced the formation of The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF), a global standards initiative among technology companies, customers, government and supplier organizations to create and promote guidelines for manufacturing, sourcing, and integrating trusted, secure technologies. The OTTF’s purpose is to shape global procurement strategies and best practices to help reduce threats and vulnerabilities in the global supply chain. I’m proud to say that we have just completed our first deliverable towards achieving our goal: The Open Trusted Technology Provider Framework (O-TTPF) whitepaper.

The framework outlines industry best practices that contribute to the secure and trusted development, manufacture, delivery and ongoing operation of commercial software and hardware products. Even though the OTTF has only recently been announced to the public, the framework and the work that led to this whitepaper have been in development for more than a year: first as a project of the Acquisition Cybersecurity Initiative, a collaborative effort facilitated by The Open Group between government and industry verticals under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Defense (OUSD (AT&L)/DDR&E). The framework is intended to benefit technology buyers and providers across all industries and across the globe concerned with secure development practices and supply chain management.

More than 15 member organizations joined efforts to form the OTTF as a proactive response to the changing cybersecurity threat landscape, which has forced governments and larger enterprises to take a more comprehensive view of risk management and product assurance. Current members of the OTTF include Atsec, Boeing, Carnegie Mellon SEI, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, IDA, Kingdee, Microsoft, MITRE, NASA, Oracle, and the U.S. Department of Defense (OUSD(AT&L)/DDR&E), with the Forum operating under the stewardship and guidance of The Open Group.

Over the past year, OTTF member organizations have been hard at work collaborating, sharing and identifying secure engineering and supply chain integrity best practices that currently exist.  These best practices have been compiled from a number of sources throughout the industry including cues taken from industry associations, coalitions, traditional standards bodies and through existing vendor practices. OTTF member representatives have also shared best practices from within their own organizations.

From there, the OTTF created a common set of best practices distilled into categories and eventually categorized into the O-TTPF whitepaper. All this was done with a goal of ensuring that the practices are practical, outcome-based, aren’t unnecessarily prescriptive and don’t favor any particular vendor.

The Framework

The diagram below outlines the structure of the framework divided into categories that outline a hierarchy of how the OTTF arrived at the best practices it created.

Trusted Technology Provider Categories

Best practices were grouped by category because the types of technology development, manufacturing or integration activities conducted by a supplier are usually tailored to suit the type of product being produced, whether it is hardware, firmware, or software-based. Categories may also be aligned by manufacturing or development phase so that, for example, a supplier can implement a Secure Engineering/Development Method if necessary.

Provider categories outlined in the framework include:

  • Product Engineering/Development Method
  • Secure Engineering/Development Method
  • Supply Chain Integrity Method
  • Product Evaluation Method

Establishing Conformance and Determining Accreditation

In order for the best practices set forth in the O-TTPF to have a long-lasting effect on securing product development and the supply chain, the OTTF will define an accreditation process. Without an accreditation process, there can be no assurance that a practitioner has implemented practices according to the approved framework.

After the framework is formally adopted as a specification, The Open Group will establish conformance criteria and design an accreditation program for the O-TTPF. The Open Group currently manages multiple industry certification and accreditation programs, operating some independently and some in conjunction with third party validation labs. The Open Group is uniquely positioned to provide the foundation for creating standards and accreditation programs. Since trusted technology providers could be either software or hardware vendors, conformance will be applicable to each technology supplier based on the appropriate product architecture.

At this point, the OTTF envisions a multi-tiered accreditation scheme, which would allow for many levels of accreditation including enterprise-wide accreditations or a specific division. An accreditation program of this nature could provide alternative routes to claim conformity to the O-TTPF.

Over the long-term, the OTTF is expected to evolve the framework to make sure its industry best practices continue to ensure the integrity of the global supply chain. Since the O-TTPF is a framework, the authors fully expect that it will evolve to help augment existing manufacturing processes rather than replace existing organizational practices or policies.

There is much left to do, but we’re already well on the way to ensuring the technology supply chain stays safe and secure. If you’re interested in shaping the Trusted Technology Provider Framework best practices and accreditation program, please join us in the OTTF.

Download the O-TTPF, or visit read the OTTPF in full here.

Andras Szakal is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Director of IBM’s Federal Software Architecture team. Andras is an Open Group Distinguished Certified IT Architect, IBM Certified SOA Solution Designer and a Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP). His responsibilities include developing e-Government software architectures using IBM middleware and leading the IBM U.S. Federal Software IT Architect Team. His team is responsible for designing solutions to enable smarter government by applying innovative approaches to secure service based computing and mission critical systems. He holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Computer Science and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from James Madison University. Andras has been a driving force behind IBM’s adoption of federal government IT standards as a member of the IBM Software Group Government Standards Strategy Team and the IBM Corporate Security Executive Board focused on secure development and cybersecurity. Andras represents the IBM Software Group on the Board of Directors of The Open Group and currently holds the Chair of the IT Architect Profession Certification Standard (ITAC). More recently he was appointed chair of The Open Trusted Technology Forum.

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4 responses to “A First Step in Securing the Global Technology Supply Chain: Introducing The Open Group Trusted Technology Provider Framework Whitepaper

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