Category Archives: Supply chain risk

How the Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) and Accreditation Will Help Lower Cyber Risk

By Andras Szakal, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, IBM U.S. Federal

Changing business dynamics and enabling technologies

In 2008, IBM introduced the concept of a “Smarter Planet.” The Smarter Planet initiative focused, in part, on the evolution of globalization against the backdrop of changing business dynamics and enabling technologies. A key concept was the need for infrastructure to be tightly integrated, interconnected, and intelligent, thereby facilitating collaboration between people, government and businesses in order to meet the world’s growing appetite for data and automation. Since then, many industries and businesses have adopted this approach, including the ICT (information and communications technology) industries that support the global technology manufacturing supply chain.

Intelligent and interconnected critical systems

This transformation has infused technology into virtually all aspects of our lives, and involves, for example, government systems, the electric grid and healthcare. Most of these technological solutions are made up of hundreds or even thousands of components that are sourced from the growing global technology supply chain.
Intelligent and interconnected critical systems

In the global technology economy, no one technology vendor or integrator is able to always provide a single source solution. It is no longer cost competitive to design all of the electronic components, printed circuit boards, card assemblies, or other sub-assemblies in-house. Adapting to the changing market place and landscape by balancing response time and cost efficiency, in an expedient manner, drives a more wide-spread use of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) products.

As a result, most technology providers procure from a myriad of global component suppliers, who very often require similarly complex supply chains to source their components. Every enterprise has a supplier network, and each of their suppliers has a supply chain network, and these sub-tier suppliers have their own supply chain networks. The resultant technology supply chain is manifested into a network of integrated suppliers.

Increasingly, the critical systems of the planet — telecommunications, banking, energy and others — depend on and benefit from the intelligence and interconnectedness enabled by existing and emerging technologies. As evidence, one need only look to the increase in enterprise mobile applications and BYOD strategies to support corporate and government employees.

Cybersecurity by design: Addressing risk in a sustainable way across the ecosystem

Whether these systems are trusted by the societies they serve depends in part on whether the technologies incorporated into them are fit for the purpose they are intended to serve. Fit for purpose is manifested in two essential ways:

- Does the product meet essential functional requirements?
– Has the product or component been produced by trustworthy provider?

Of course, the leaders or owners of these systems have to do their part to achieve security and safety: e.g., to install, use and maintain technology appropriately, and to pay attention to people and process aspects such as insider threats. Cybersecurity considerations must be addressed in a sustainable way from the get-go, by design, and across the whole ecosystem — not after the fact, or in just one sector or another, or in reaction to crisis.

Assuring the quality and integrity of mission-critical technology

In addressing the broader cybersecurity challenge, however, buyers of mission-critical technology naturally seek reassurance as to the quality and integrity of the products they procure. In our view, the fundamentals of the institutional response to that need are similar to those that have worked in prior eras and in other industries — like food.

The very process of manufacturing technology is not immune to cyber-attack. The primary purpose of attacking the supply chain typically is motivated by monetary gain. The primary goals of a technology supply chain attack are intended to inflict massive economic damage in an effort to gain global economic advantage or as a way to seeding targets with malware that provides unfettered access for attackers.

It is for this reason that the global technology manufacturing industry must establish practices that mitigate this risk by increasing the cost barriers of launching such attacks and increasing the likelihood of being caught before the effects of such an attack are irreversible. As these threats evolve, the global ICT industry must deploy enhanced security through advanced automated cyber intelligence analysis. As critical infrastructure becomes more automated, integrated and essential to critical to functions, the technology supply chain that surrounds it must be considered a principle theme of the overall global security and risk mitigation strategy.

A global, agile, and scalable approach to supply chain security

Certainly, the manner in which technologies are invented, produced, and sold requires a global, agile, and scalable approach to supply chain assurance and is essential to achieve the desired results. Any technology supply chain security standard that hopes to be widely adopted must be flexible and country-agnostic. The very nature of the global supply chain (massively segmented and diverse) requires an approach that provides practicable guidance but avoids being overtly prescriptive. Such an approach would require the aggregation of industry practices that have been proven beneficial and effective at mitigating risk.

The OTTF (The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum) is an increasingly recognized and promising industry initiative to establish best practices to mitigate the risk of technology supply chain attack. Facilitated by The Open Group, a recognized international standards and certification body, the OTTF is working with governments and industry worldwide to create vendor-neutral open standards and best practices that can be implemented by anyone. Current membership includes a list of the most well-known technology vendors, integrators, and technology assessment laboratories.

The benefits of O-TTPS for governments and enterprises

IBM is currently a member of the OTTF and has been honored to hold the Chair for the last three years.  Governments and enterprises alike will benefit from the work of the OTTF. Technology purchasers can use the Open Trusted Technology Provider™ Standard (O-TTPS) and Framework best-practice recommendations to guide their strategies.

A wide range of technology vendors can use O-TTPS approaches to build security and integrity into their end-to-end supply chains. The first version of the O-TTPS is focused on mitigating the risk of maliciously tainted and counterfeit technology components or products. Note that a maliciously tainted product is one that has been produced by the provider and acquired through reputable channels but which has been tampered maliciously. A counterfeit product is produced other than by or for the provider, or is supplied by a non-reputable channel, and is represented as legitimate. The OTTF is currently working on a program that will accredit technology providers who conform to the O-TTPS. IBM expects to complete pilot testing of the program by 2014.

IBM has actively supported the formation of the OTTF and the development of the O-TTPS for several reasons. These include but are not limited to the following:

- The Forum was established within a trusted and respected international standards body – The Open Group.
– The Forum was founded, in part, through active participation by governments in a true public-private partnership in which government members actively participate.
– The OTTF membership includes some of the most mature and trusted commercial technology manufactures and vendors because a primary objective of the OTTF was harmonization with other standards groups such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and Common Criteria.

The O-TTPS defines a framework of organizational guidelines and best practices that enhance the security and integrity of COTS ICT. The first version of the O-TTPS is focused on mitigating certain risks of maliciously tainted and counterfeit products within the technology development / engineering lifecycle. These best practices are equally applicable for systems integrators; however, the standard is intended to primarily address the point of view of the technology manufacturer.

O-TTPS requirements

The O-TTPS requirements are divided into three categories:

1. Development / Engineering Process and Method
2. Secure Engineering Practices
3. Supply Chain Security Practices

The O-TTPS is intended to establish a normalized set of criteria against which a technology provider, component supplier, or integrator can be assessed. The standard is divided into categories that define best practices for engineering development practices, secure engineering, and supply chain security and integrity intended to mitigate the risk of maliciously tainted and counterfeit components.

The accreditation program

As part of the process for developing the accreditation criteria and policy, the OTTF established a pilot accreditation program. The purpose of the pilot was to take a handful of companies through the accreditation process and remediate any potential process or interpretation issues. IBM participated in the OTTP-S accreditation pilot to accredit a very significant segment of the software product portfolio; the Application Infrastructure Middleware Division (AIM) which includes the flagship WebSphere product line. The AIM pilot started in mid-2013 and completed in the first week of 2014 and was formally recognized as accredited in the fist week of February 2014.

IBM is currently leveraging the value of the O-TTPS and working to accredit additional development organizations. Some of the lessons learned during the IBM AIM initial O-TTPS accreditation include:

- Conducting a pre-assessment against the O-TTPS should be conducted by an organization before formally entering accreditation. This allows for remediation of any gaps and reduces potential assessment costs and project schedule.
– Starting with a segment of your development portfolio that has a mature secure engineering practices and processes. This helps an organization address accreditation requirements and facilitates interactions with the 3rd party lab.
– Using your first successful O-TTPS accreditation to create templates that will help drive data gathering and validate practices to establish a repeatable process as your organization undertakes additional accreditations.

andras-szakalAndras Szakal, VP and CTO, IBM U.S. Federal, is responsible for IBM’s industry solution technology strategy in support of the U.S. Federal customer. Andras was appointed IBM Distinguished Engineer and Director of IBM’s Federal Software Architecture team in 2005. He is an Open Group Distinguished Certified IT Architect, IBM Certified SOA Solution Designer and a Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP).  Andras holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Computer Science and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from James Madison University. He has been a driving force behind IBM’s adoption of 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 Group Trusted Technology Forum and leads the development of The Open Trusted Technology Provider Framework.

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Filed under Accreditations, Cybersecurity, government, O-TTF, O-TTPS, OTTF, RISK Management, Standards, supply chain, Supply chain risk

Accrediting the Global Supply Chain: A Conversation with O-TTPS Recognized Assessors Fiona Pattinson and Erin Connor

By The Open Group 

At the recent San Francisco 2014 conference, The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) announced the launch of the Open Trusted Technology Provider™ Standard (O-TTPS) Accreditation Program.

The program is one the first accreditation programs worldwide aimed at assuring the integrity of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) information and communication technology (ICT) products and the security of their supply chains.

In three short years since OTTF launched, the forum has grown to include more than 25 member companies dedicated to safeguarding the global supply chain against the increasing sophistication of cybersecurity attacks through standards. Accreditation is yet another step in the process of protecting global technology supply chains from maliciously tainted and counterfeit products.

As part of the program, third-party assessor companies will be employed to assess organizations applying for accreditation, with The Open Group serving as the vendor-neutral Accreditation Authority that operates the program.  Prior to the launch, the forum conducted a pilot program with a number of member companies. It was announced at the conference that IBM is the first company to becoming accredited, earning accreditation for its Application, Infrastructure and Middleware (AIM), software business division for its product integrity and supply chain practices.

We recently spoke with OTTF members Fiona Pattinson, director of strategy and business development at Atsec Information Security, and Erin Connor, director at EWA-Canada, at the San Francisco conference to learn more about the assessment process and the new program.

The O-TTPS focus is on securing the technology supply chain. What would you say are the biggest threats facing the supply chain today?

Fiona Pattinson (FP): I think in the three years since the forum began certainly all the members have discussed the various threats quite a lot. It was one of things we discussed as an important topic early on, and I don’t know if it’s the ‘biggest threat,’ but certainly the most important threats that we needed to address initially were those of counterfeit and maliciously tainted products. We came to that through both discussion with all the industry experts in the forum and also through research into some of the requirements from government, so that’s exactly how we knew which threats [to start with].

Erin Connor (EC):  And the forum benefits from having both sides of the acquisition process, both acquirers, and the suppliers and vendors. So they get both perspectives.

How would you define maliciously tainted and counterfeit products?

FP:  They are very carefully defined in the standard—we needed to do that because people’s understanding of that can vary so much.

EC: And actually the concept of ‘maliciously’ tainted was incorporated close to the end of the development process for the standard at the request of members on the acquisition side of the process.

[Note: The standard precisely defines maliciously tainted and counterfeit products as follows:

"The two major threats that acquirers face today in their COTS ICT procurements, as addressed in this Standard, are defined as:

1. Maliciously tainted product – the product is produced by the provider and is acquired

through a provider’s authorized channel, but has been tampered with maliciously.

2. Counterfeit product – the product is produced other than by, or for, the provider, or is

supplied to the provider by other than a provider’s authorized channel and is presented as being legitimate even though it is not."]

The OTTF announced the Accreditation Program for the OTTP Standard at the recent San Francisco conference. Tell us about the standard and how the accreditation program will help ensure conformance to it?

EC: The program is intended to provide organizations with a way to accredit their lifecycle processes for their product development so they can prevent counterfeit or maliciously tainted components from getting into the products they are selling to an end user or into somebody else’s supply chain. It was determined that a third-party type of assessment program would be used. For the organizations, they will know that we Assessors have gone through a qualification process with The Open Group and that we have in place all that’s required on the management side to properly do an assessment. From the consumer side, they have confidence the assessment has been completed by an independent third-party, so they know we aren’t beholden to the organizations to give them a passing grade when perhaps they don’t deserve it. And then of course The Open Group is in position to oversee the whole process and award the final accreditation based on the recommendation we provide.  The Open Group will also be the arbiter of the process between the assessors and organizations if necessary. 

FP:  So The Open Group’s accreditation authority is validating the results of the assessors.

EC: It’s a model that is employed in many, many other product or process assessment and evaluation programs where the actual accreditation authority steps back and have third parties do the assessment.

FP: It is important that the assessor companies are working to the same standard so that there’s no advantage in taking one assessor over the other in terms of the quality of the assessments that are produced.

How does the accreditation program work?

FP: Well, it’s brand new so we don’t know if it is perfect yet, but having said that, we have worked over several months on defining the process, and we have drawn from The Open Group’s existing accreditation programs, as well as from the forum experts who have worked in the accreditation field for many years. We have been performing pilot accreditations in order to check out how the process works. So it is already tested.

How does it actually work? Well, first of all an organization will feel the need to become accredited and at that point will apply to The Open Group to get the accreditation underway. Once their scope of accreditation – which may be as small as one product or theoretically as large as a whole global company – and once the application is reviewed and approved by The Open Group, then they engage an assessor.

There is a way of sampling a large scope to identify the process variations in a larger scope using something we term ‘selective representative products.’ It’s basically a way of logically sampling a big scope so that we capture the process variations within the scope and make sure that the assessment is kept to a reasonable size for the organization undergoing the assessment, but it also gives good assurance to the consumers that it is a representative sample. The assessment is performed by the Recognized Assessor company, and a final report is written and provided to The Open Group for their validation. If everything is in order, then the company will be accredited and their scope of conformance will be added to the accreditation register and trademarked.

EC: So the customers of that organization can go and check the registration for exactly what products are covered by the scope.

FP: Yes, the register is public and anybody can check. So if IBM says WebSphere is accredited, you can go and check that claim on The Open Group web site.

How long does the process take or does it vary?

EC: It will vary depending on how large the scope to be accredited is in terms of the size of the representative set and the documentation evidence. It really does depend on what the variations in the processes are among the product lines as to how long it takes the assessor to go through the evidence and then to produce the report. The other side of the coin is how long it takes the organization to produce the evidence. It may well be that they might not have it totally there at the outset and will have to create some of it.

FP: As Erin said, it varies by the complexity and the variation of the processes and hence the number of selected representative products. There are other factors that can influence the duration. There are three parties influencing that: The applicant Organization, The Open Group’s Accreditation Authority and the Recognized Assessor.

For example, we found that the initial work by the Organization and the Accreditation Authority in checking the scope and the initial documentation can take a few weeks for a complex scope, of course for the pilots we were all new at doing that. In this early part of the project it is vital to get the scope both clearly defined and approved since it is key to a successful accreditation.

It is important that an Organization assigns adequate resources to help keep this to the shortest time possible, both during the initial scope discussions, and during the assessment. If the Organization can provide all the documentation before they get started, then the assessors are not waiting for that and the duration of the assessment can be kept as short as possible.

Of course the resources assigned by the Recognized Assessor also influences how long an assessment takes. A variable for the assessors is how much documentation do they have to read and review? It might be small or it might be a mountain.

The Open Group’s final review and oversight of the assessment takes some time and is influenced by resource availability within that organization. If they have any questions it may take a little while to resolve.

What kind of safeguards does the accreditation program put in place for enforcing the standard?

FP: It is a voluntary standard—there’s no requirement to comply. Currently some of the U.S. government organizations are recommending it. For example, NASA in their SEWP contract and some of the draft NIST documents on Supply Chain refer to it, too.

EC: In terms of actual oversight, we review what their processes are as assessors, and the report and our recommendations are based on that review. The accreditation expires after three years so before the three years is up, the organization should actually get the process underway to obtain a re-accreditation.  They would have to go through the process again but there will be a few more efficiencies because they’ve done it before. They may also wish to expand the scope to include the other product lines and portions of the company. There aren’t any periodic ‘spot checks’ after accreditation to make sure they’re still following the accredited processes, but part of what we look at during the assessment is that they have controls in place to ensure they continue doing the things they are supposed to be doing in terms of securing their supply chain.

FP:  And then the key part is the agreement the organizations signs with The Open Group includes the fact the organization warrant and represent that they remain in conformance with the standard throughout the accreditation period. So there is that assurance too, which builds on the more formal assessment checks.

What are the next steps for The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum?  What will you be working on this year now that the accreditation program has started?

FP: Reviewing the lessons we learned through the pilot!

EC: And reviewing comments from members on the standard now that it’s publicly available and working on version 1.1 to make any corrections or minor modifications. While that’s going on, we’re also looking ahead to version 2 to make more substantial changes, if necessary. The standard is definitely going to be evolving for a couple of years and then it will reach a steady state, which is the normal evolution for a standard.

For more details on the O-TTPS accreditation program, to apply for accreditation, or to learn more about becoming an O-TTPS Recognized Assessor visit the O-TTPS Accreditation page.

For more information on The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum please visit the OTTF Home Page.

The O-TTPS standard and the O-TTPS Accreditation Policy they are freely available from the Trusted Technology Section in The Open Group Bookstore.

For information on joining the OTTF membership please contact Mike Hickey – m.hickey@opengroup.org

Fiona Pattinson Fiona Pattinson is responsible for developing new and existing atsec service offerings.  Under the auspices of The Open Group’s OTTF, alongside many expert industry colleagues, Fiona has helped develop The Open Group’s O-TTPS, including developing the accreditation program for supply chain security.  In the past, Fiona has led service developments which have included establishing atsec’s US Common Criteria laboratory, the CMVP cryptographic module testing laboratory, the GSA FIPS 201 TP laboratory, TWIC reader compliance testing, NPIVP, SCAP, PCI, biometrics testing and penetration testing. Fiona has responsibility for understanding a broad range of information security topics and the application of security in a wide variety of technology areas from low-level design to the enterprise level.

ErinConnorErin Connor is the Director at EWA-Canada responsible for EWA-Canada’s Information Technology Security Evaluation & Testing Facility, which includes a Common Criteria Test Lab, a Cryptographic & Security Test Lab (FIPS 140 and SCAP), a Payment Assurance Test Lab (device testing for PCI PTS POI & HSM, Australian Payment Clearing Association and Visa mPOS) and an O-TTPS Assessor lab Recognized by the Open Group.  Erin participated with other expert members of the Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) in the development of The Open Group Trusted Technology Provider Standard for supply chain security and its accompanying Accreditation Program.  Erin joined EWA-Canada in 1994 and his initial activities in the IT Security and Infrastructure Assurance field included working on the team fielding a large scale Public Key Infrastructure system, Year 2000 remediation and studies of wireless device vulnerabilities.  Since 2000, Erin has been working on evaluations of a wide variety of products including hardware security modules, enterprise security management products, firewalls, mobile device and management products, as well as system and network vulnerability management products.  He was also the only representative of an evaluation lab in the Biometric Evaluation Methodology Working Group, which developed a proposed methodology for the evaluation of biometric technologies under the Common Criteria.

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Filed under Accreditations, Cybersecurity, OTTF, Professional Development, Standards, Supply chain risk

New Accreditation Program – Raises the Bar for Securing Global Supply Chains

By Sally Long, Director of The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF)™

In April 2013, The Open Group announced the release of the Open Trusted Technology Provider™ Standard (O-TTPS) 1.0 – Mitigating Maliciously Tainted and Counterfeit Products. Now we are announcing the O-TTPS Accreditation Program, launched on February 3, 2014, which enables organizations that conform to the standard to be accredited as Open Trusted Technology Providers™.

The O-TTPS, a standard of The Open Group, provides a set of guidelines, recommendations and requirements that help assure against maliciously tainted and counterfeit products throughout commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) information and communication technology (ICT) product lifecycles. The standard includes best practices throughout all phases of a product’s life cycle: design, sourcing, build, fulfillment, distribution, sustainment, and disposal, thus enhancing the integrity of COTS ICT products and the security of their global supply chains.

This accreditation program is one of the first of its kind in providing accreditation for conforming to standards for product integrity coupled with supply chain security.

The standard and the accreditation program are the result of a collaboration between government, third party evaluators and some of industry’s most mature and respected providers who came together and, over a period of four years, shared their practices for integrity and security, including those used in-house and those used with their own supply chains.

Applying for O-TTPS Accreditation

When the OTTF started this initiative, one of its many mantras was “raise all boats.” The  objective was to raise the security bar across the full spectrum of the supply chain, from small component suppliers to the providers who include those components in their products and to the integrators who incorporate those providers’ products into customers’ systems.

The O-TTPS Accreditation Program is open to all component suppliers, providers and integrators. The holistic aspect of this program’s potential, as illustrated in the diagram below should not be underestimated—but it will take a concerted effort to reach and encourage all constituents in the supply chain to become involved.

OTTPSThe importance of mitigating the risk of maliciously tainted and counterfeit products

The focus on mitigating the risks of tainted and counterfeit products by increasing the security of the supply chain is critical in today’s global economy. Virtually nothing is made from one source.

COTS ICT supply chains are complex. A single product can be comprised of hundreds of components from multiple component suppliers from numerous different areas around the world—and providers can change their component suppliers frequently depending on the going rate for a particular component.  If, along the supply chain, bad things happen, such as inserting counterfeit components in place of authentic ones or inserting maliciously tainted code or the double-hammer—maliciously tainted counterfeit parts—then terrible things can happen when that product is installed at a customer site.

With the threat of tainted and counterfeit technology products posing a major risk to global organizations, it is increasingly important for those organizations to take what steps they can to mitigate these risks. The O-TTPS Accreditation Program is one of those steps. Can an accreditation program completely eliminate the risk of tainted and counterfeit components? No!  Does it reduce the risk? Absolutely!

How the Accreditation Program works

The Open Group, with over 25 years’ experience managing vendor- and technology-neutral certification programs, will assume the role of the Accreditation Authority over the entire program. Additionally the program will utilize third-party assessors to assess conformance to the O-TTPS requirements.

Companies seeking accreditation will declare their Scope of Accreditation, which means they can choose to be accredited for conforming to the O-TTPS standard and adhering to the best practice requirements across their entire enterprise, within a specific product line or business unit or within an individual product.  Organizations applying for accreditation are then required to provide evidence of conformance for each of the O-TTPS requirements, demonstrating they have the processes in place to secure in-house development and their supply chains across the entire COTS ICT product lifecycle. O-TTPS accredited organizations will then be able to identify themselves as Open Trusted Technology Providers™ and will become part of a public registry of trusted providers.

The Open Group has also instituted the O-TTPS Recognized Assessor Program, which assures that Recognized Assessor (companies) meet certain criteria as assessor organizations and that their assessors (individuals) meet an additional set of criteria and have passed the O-TTPS Assessor exam, before they can be assigned to an O-TTPS Assessment. The Open Group will operate this program, grant O-TTPS Recognized Assessor certificates and list those qualifying organizations on a public registry of recognized assessor companies.

Efforts to increase awareness of the program

The Open Group understands that to achieve global uptake we need to reach out to other countries across the globe for market adoption, as well as to other standards groups for harmonization. The forum has a very active outreach and harmonization work group and the OTTF is increasingly being recognized for its efforts. A number of prominent U.S. government agencies, including the General Accounting Office and NASA have recognized the standard as an important supply chain security effort. Dave Lounsbury, the CTO of The Open Group, has testified before Congress on the value of this initiative from the industry-government partnership perspective. The Open Group has also met with President Obama’s Cybersecurity Coordinators (past and present) to apprise them of our work. We continue to work closely with NIST from the perspective of the Cybersecurity Framework, which recognizes the supply chain as a critical area for the next version, and the OTTF work is acknowledged in NIST’s Special Publication 161. We have liaisons with ISO and are working internally at mapping our standards and accreditation to Common Criteria. The O-TTPS has also been discussed with government agencies in China, India, Japan and the UK.

The initial version of the standard and the accreditation program are just the beginning. OTTF members will continue to evolve both the standard and the accreditation program to provide additional versions that refine existing requirements, introduce additional requirements, and cover additional threats. And the outreach and harmonization efforts will continue to strengthen so that we can reach that holistic potential of Open Trusted Technology Providers™ throughout all global supply chains.

For more details on the O-TTPS accreditation program, to apply for accreditation, or to learn more about becoming an O-TTPS Recognized Assessor visit the O-TTPS Accreditation page.

For more information on The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum please visit the OTTF Home Page.

The O-TTPS standard and the O-TTPS Accreditation Policy they are freely available from the Trusted Technology Section in The Open Group Bookstore.

For information on joining the OTTF membership please contact Mike Hickey – m.hickey@opengroup.org

Sally LongSally Long is the Director of The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF). She has managed customer supplier forums and collaborative development projects for over twenty years. She was the release engineering section manager for all multi-vendor collaborative technology development projects at The Open Software Foundation (OSF) in Cambridge Massachusetts. Following the merger of the OSF and X/Open under The Open Group, she served as director for multiple forums in The Open Group. Sally has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Filed under Cybersecurity, OTTF, Supply chain risk

Summer in the Capitol – Looking Back at The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C.

By Jim Hietala, The Open Group

This past week in Washington D.C., The Open Group held our Q3 conference. The theme for the event was “Cybersecurity – Defend Critical Assets and Secure the Global Supply Chain,” and the conference featured a number of thought-provoking speakers and presentations.

Cybersecurity is at a critical juncture, and conference speakers highlighted the threat and attack reality and described industry efforts to move forward in important areas. The conference also featured a new capability, as several of the events were Livestreamed to the Internet.

For those who did not make the event, here’s a summary of a few of the key presentations, as well as what The Open Group is doing in these areas.

Joel Brenner, attorney with Cooley, was our first keynote. Joel’s presentation was titled, “Turning Us Inside-Out: Crime and Economic Espionage on our Networks,” The talk mirrored his recent book, “America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare,” and Joel talked about current threats to critical infrastructure, attack trends and challenges in securing information. Joel’s presentation was a wakeup call to the very real issues of IP theft and identity theft. Beyond describing the threat and attack landscape, Joel discussed some of the management challenges related to ownership of the problem, namely that the different stakeholders in addressing cybersecurity in companies, including legal, technical, management and HR, all tend to think that this is someone else’s problem. Joel stated the need for policy spanning the entire organization to fully address the problem.

Kristin Baldwin, principal deputy, systems engineering, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering, described the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) trusted defense systems strategy and challenges, including requirements to secure their multi-tiered supply chain. She also talked about how the acquisition landscape has changed over the past few years. In addition, for all programs the DoD now requires the creation of a program protection plan, which is the single focal point for security activities on the program. Kristin’s takeaways included needing a holistic approach to security, focusing attention on the threat, and avoiding risk exposure from gaps and seams. DoD’s Trusted Defense Systems Strategy provides an overarching framework for trusted systems. Stakeholder integration with acquisition, intelligence, engineering, industry and research communities is key to success. Systems engineering brings these stakeholders, risk trades, policy and design decisions together. Kristin also stressed the importance of informing leadership early and providing programs with risk-based options.

Dr. Ron Ross of NIST presented a perfect storm of proliferation of information systems and networks, increasing sophistication of threat, resulting in an increasing number of penetrations of information systems in the public and private sectors potentially affecting security and privacy. He proposed a need an integrated project team approach to information security. Dr. Ross also provided an overview of the changes coming in NIST SP 800-53, version 4, which is presently available in draft form. He also advocated a dual protection strategy approach involving traditional controls at network perimeters that assumes attackers outside of organizational networks, as well as agile defenses, are already inside the perimeter. The objective of agile defenses is to enable operation while under attack and to minimize response times to ongoing attacks. This new approach mirrors thinking from the Jericho Forum and others on de-perimeterization and security and is very welcome.

The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum provided a panel discussion on supply chain security issues and the approach that the forum is taking towards addressing issues relating to taint and counterfeit in products. The panel included Andras Szakal of IBM, Edna Conway of Cisco and Dan Reddy of EMC, as well as Dave Lounsbury, CTO of The Open Group. OTTF continues to make great progress in the area of supply chain security, having published a snapshot of the Open Trusted Technology Provider Framework, working to create a conformance program, and in working to harmonize with other standards activities.

Dave Hornford, partner at Conexiam and chair of The Open Group Architecture Forum, provided a thought provoking presentation titled, “Secure Business Architecture, or just Security Architecture?” Dave’s talk described the problems in approaches that are purely focused on securing against threats and brought forth the idea that focusing on secure business architecture was a better methodology for ensuring that stakeholders had visibility into risks and benefits.

Geoff Besko, CEO of Seccuris and co-leader of the security integration project for the next version of TOGAF®, delivered a presentation that looked at risk from a positive and negative view. He recognized that senior management frequently have a view of risk embracing as taking risk with am eye on business gains if revenue/market share/profitability, while security practitioners tend to focus on risk as something that is to be mitigated. Finding common ground is key here.

Katie Lewin, who is responsible for the GSA FedRAMP program, provided an overview of the program, and how it is helping raise the bar for federal agency use of secure Cloud Computing.

The conference also featured a workshop on security automation, which featured presentations on a number of standards efforts in this area, including on SCAP, O-ACEML from The Open Group, MILE, NEA, AVOS and SACM. One conclusion from the workshop was that there’s presently a gap and a need for a higher level security automation architecture encompassing the many lower level protocols and standards that exist in the security automation area.

In addition to the public conference, a number of forums of The Open Group met in working sessions to advance their work in the Capitol. These included:

All in all, the conference clarified the magnitude of the cybersecurity threat, and the importance of initiatives from The Open Group and elsewhere to make progress on real solutions.

Join us at our next conference in Barcelona on October 22-25!

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Filed under Conference, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Architecture, Information security, OTTF, Security Architecture, Supply chain risk, TOGAF®

The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum is Leading the Way to Securing Global IT Supply Chains

By Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solutions

This BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview comes in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C., beginning July 16. The conference will focus on Enterprise Architecture (EA), enterprise transformation, and securing global supply chains.

We’re joined in advance by some of the main speakers at the conference to examine the latest efforts to make global supply chains for technology providers more secure, verified, and therefore trusted. We’ll examine the advancement of The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) to gain an update on the effort’s achievements, and to learn more about how technology suppliers and buyers can expect to benefit.

The expert panel consists of Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group; Dan Reddy, Senior Consultant Product Manager in the Product Security Office at EMC Corp.; Andras Szakal, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at IBM’s U.S. Federal Group, and also the Chair of the OTTF, and Edna Conway, Chief Security Strategist for Global Supply Chain at Cisco. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Why this is an important issue, and why is there a sense of urgency in the markets?

Lounsbury: The Open Group has a vision of boundaryless information flow, and that necessarily involves interoperability. But interoperability doesn’t have the effect that you want, unless you can also trust the information that you’re getting, as it flows through the system.

Therefore, it’s necessary that you be able to trust all of the links in the chain that you use to deliver your information. One thing that everybody who watches the news would acknowledge is that the threat landscape has changed. As systems become more and more interoperable, we get more and more attacks on the system.

As the value that flows through the system increases, there’s a lot more interest in cyber crime. Unfortunately, in our world, there’s now the issue of state-sponsored incursions in cyberspace, whether officially state-sponsored or not, but politically motivated ones certainly.

So there is an increasing awareness on the part of government and industry that we must protect the supply chain, both through increasing technical security measures, which are handled in lots of places, and in making sure that the vendors and consumers of components in the supply chain are using proper methodologies to make sure that there are no vulnerabilities in their components.

I’ll note that the demand we’re hearing is increasingly for work on standards in security. That’s top of everybody’s mind these days.

Reddy: One of the things that we’re addressing is the supply chain item that was part of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), which spans the work of two presidents. Initiative 11 was to develop a multi-pronged approach to global supply chain risk management. That really started the conversation, especially in the federal government as to how private industry and government should work together to address the risks there.

In the OTTF, we’ve tried create a clear measurable way to address supply-chain risk. It’s been really hard to even talk about supply chain risk, because you have to start with getting a common agreement about what the supply chain is, and then talk about how to deal with risk by following best practices.

Szakal: One of the observations that I’ve made over the last couple of years is that this group of individuals, who are now part of this standards forum, have grown in their ability to collaborate, define, and rise to the challenges, and work together to solve the problem.

Standards process

Technology supply chain security and integrity are not necessarily a set of requirements or an initiative that has been taken on by the standards committee or standards groups up to this point The people who are participating in this aren’t your traditional IT standards gurus. They had to learn the standards process. They had to understand how to approach the standardization of best practices, which is how we approach solving this problem.

It’s sharing information. It’s opening up across the industry to share best practices on how to secure the supply chain and how to ensure its overall integrity. Our goal has been to develop a framework of best practices and then ultimately take those codified best practices and instantiate them into a standard, which we can then assess providers against. It’s a big effort, but I think we’re making tremendous progress.

Gardner: Because The Open Group Conference is taking place in Washington, D.C., what’s the current perception in the U.S. Government about this in terms of its role?

Szakal:The government has always taken a prominent role, at least to help focus the attention of the industry.

Now that they’ve corralled the industry and they’ve got us moving in the right direction, in many ways, we’ve fought through many of the intricate complex technology supply chain issues and we’re ahead of some of the thinking of folks outside of this group because the industry lives these challenges and understands the state of the art. Some of the best minds in the industry are focused on this, and we’ve applied some significant internal resources across our membership to work on this challenge.

So the government is very interested in it. We’ve had collaborations all the way from the White House across the Department of Defense (DoD) and within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and we have members from the government space in NASA and DoD.

It’s very much a collaborative effort, and I’m hoping that it can continue to be so and be utilized as a standard that the government can point to, instead of coming up with their own policies and practices that may actually not work as well as those defined by the industry.

Conway: Our colleagues on the public side of the public-private partnership that is addressing supply-chain integrity have recognized that we need to do it together.

More importantly, you need only to listen to a statement, which I know has often been quoted, but it’s worth noting again from EU Commissioner Algirdas Semeta. He recently said that in a globalized world, no country can secure the supply chain in isolation. He recognized that, again quoting, national supply chains are ineffective and too costly unless they’re supported by enhanced international cooperation.

Mindful focus

The one thing that we bring to bear here is a mindful focus on the fact that we need a public-private partnership to address comprehensively in our information and communications technology industry supply chain integrity internationally. That has been very important in our focus. We want to be a one-stop shop of best practices that the world can look at, so that we continue to benefit from commercial technology which sells globally and frequently builds once or on a limited basis.

Combining that international focus and the public-private partnership is something that’s really coming home to roost in everyone’s minds right now, as we see security value migrating away from an end point and looking comprehensively at the product lifecycle or the global supply chain.

Lounsbury:I had the honor of testifying before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Oversight Investigations, on the view from within the U.S. Government on IT security.

It was very gratifying to see that the government does recognize this problem. We had witnesses in from the DoD and Department of Energy (DoE). I was there, because I was one of the two voices on industry that the government wants to tap into to get the industry’s best practices into the government.

It was even more gratifying to see that the concerns that were raised in the hearings were exactly the ones that the OTTF is pursuing. How do you validate a long and complex global supply chain in the face of a very wide threat environment, recognizing that it can’t be any single country? Also, it really does need to be not a process that you apply to a point, but something where you have a standard that raises the bar for our security for all the participants in your supply chain.

So it was really good to know that we were on track and that the government, and certainly the U.S. Government, as we’ve heard from Edna, the European governments, and I suspect all world governments are looking at exactly how to tap into this industry activity.

Gardner: Where we are in the progression of OTTF?

Lounsbury: In the last 18 months, there has been a tremendous amount of progress. The thing that I’ll highlight is that early in 2012, the OTTF published a snapshot of the standard. A snapshot is what The Open Group uses to give a preview of what we expect the standards will apply. It has fleshed out two areas, one on tainted products and one on counterfeit products, the standards and best practices needed to secure a supply chain against those two vulnerabilities.

So that’s out there. People can take a look at that document. Of course, we would welcome their feedback on it. We think other people have good answers too. Also, if they want to start using that as guidance for how they should shape their own practices, then that would be available to them.

Normative guidance

That’s the top development topic inside the OTTF itself. Of course, in parallel with that, we’re continuing to engage in an outreach process and talking to government agencies that have a stake in securing the supply chain, whether it’s part of government policy or other forms of steering the government to making sure they are making the right decisions. In terms of exactly where we are, I’ll defer to Edna and Andras on the top priority in the group.

Gardner: Edna, what’s been going on at OTTF and where do things stand?

Conway: We decided that this was, in fact, a comprehensive effort that was going to grow over time and change as the challenges change. We began by looking at two primary areas, which were counterfeit and taint in that communications technology arena. In doing so, we first identified a set of best practices, which you referenced briefly inside of that snapshot.

Where we are today is adding the diligence, and extracting the knowledge and experience from the broad spectrum of participants in the OTTF to establish a set of rigorous conformance criteria that allow a balance between flexibility and how one goes about showing compliance to those best practices, while also assuring the end customer that there is rigor sufficient to ensure that certain requirements are met meticulously, but most importantly comprehensively.

We have a practice right now where we’re going through each and every requirement or best practice and thinking through the broad spectrum of the development stage of the lifecycle, as well as the end-to-end nodes of the supply chain itself.

This is to ensure that there are requirements that would establish conformance that could be pointed to, by both those who would seek accreditation to this international standard, as well as those who would rely on that accreditation as the imprimatur of some higher degree of trustworthiness in the products and solutions that are being afforded to them, when they select an OTTF accredited provider.

Gardner: Andras, I’m curious where in an organization like IBM that these issues are most enforceable. Where within the private sector is the knowledge and the expertise to reside?

Szakal: Speaking for IBM, we recently celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2011. We’ve had a little more time than some folks to come up with a robust engineering and development process, which harkens back to the IBM 701 and the beginning of the modern computing era.

Integrated process

We have what we call the integrated product development process (IPD), which all products follow and that includes hardware and software. And we have a very robust quality assurance team, the QSE team, which ensures that the folks are following those practices that are called out. Within each of line of business there exist specific requirements that apply more directly to the architecture of a particular product offering.

For example, the hardware group obviously has additional standards that they have to follow during the course of development that is specific to hardware development and the associated supply chain, and that is true with the software team as well.

The product development teams are integrated with the supply chain folks, and we have what we call the Secure Engineering Framework, of which I was an author and the Secure Engineering Initiative which we have continued to evolve for quite some time now, to ensure that we are effectively engineering and sourcing components and that we’re following these Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) best practices.

In fact, the work that we’ve done here in the OTTF has helped to ensure that we’re focused in all of the same areas that Edna’s team is with Cisco, because we’ve shared our best practices across all of the members here in the OTTF, and it gives us a great view into what others are doing, and helps us ensure that we’re following the most effective industry best practices.

Gardner: Dan, at EMC, is the Product Security Office something similar to what Andras explained for how IBM operates? Perhaps you could just give us a sense of how it’s done there?

Reddy: At EMC in our Product Security Office, we house the enabling expertise to define how to build their products securely. We’re interested in building that in as soon as possible throughout the entire lifecycle. We work with all of our product teams to measure where they are, to help them define their path forward, as they look at each of the releases of their other products. And we’ve done a lot of work in sharing our practices within the industry.

One of the things this standard does for us, especially in the area of dealing with the supply chain, is it gives us a way to communicate what our practices are with our customers. Customers are looking for that kind of assurance and rather than having a one-by-one conversation with customers about what our practices are for a particular organization. This would allow us to have a way of demonstrating the measurement and the conformance against a standard to our own customers.

Also, as we flip it around and take a look at our own suppliers, we want to be able to encourage suppliers, which may be small suppliers, to conform to a standard, as we go and select who will be our authorized suppliers.

Gardner: Dave, what would you suggest for those various suppliers around the globe to begin the process?

Publications catalog

Lounsbury: Obviously, the thing I would recommend right off is to go to The Open Group website, go to the publications catalog, and download the snapshot of the OTTF standard. That gives a good overview of the two areas of best practices for protection from tainted and counterfeit products we’ve mentioned on the call here.

That’s the starting point, but of course, the reason it’s very important for the commercial world to lead this is that commercial vendors face the commercial market pressures and have to respond to threats quickly. So the other part of this is how to stay involved and how to stay up to date?

And of course the two ways that The Open Group offers to let people do that is that you can come to our quarterly conferences, where we do regular presentations on this topic. In fact, the Washington meeting is themed on the supply chain security.

Of course, the best way to do it is to actually be in the room as these standards are evolved to meet the current and the changing threat environment. So, joining The Open Group and joining the OTTF is absolutely the best way to be on the cutting edge of what’s happening, and to take advantage of the great information you get from the companies represented on this call, who have invested years-and-years, as Andras said, in making their own best practices and learning from them.

Gardner:Edna, what’s on the short list of next OTTF priorities?

Conway: You’ve heard us talk about CNCI, and the fact that cybersecurity is on everyone’s minds today. So while taint embodies that to some degree, we probably need to think about partnering in a more comprehensive way under the resiliency and risk umbrella that you heard Dan talk about and really think about embedding security into a resilient supply chain or a resilient enterprise approach.

In fact, to give that some forethought, we actually have invited at the upcoming conference, a colleague who I’ve worked with for a number of years who is a leading expert in enterprise resiliency and supply chain resiliency to join us and share his thoughts.

He is a professor at MIT, and his name is Yossi Sheffi. Dr. Sheffi will be with us. It’s from that kind of information sharing, as we think in a more comprehensive way, that we begin to gather the expertise that not only resides today globally in different pockets, whether it be academia, government, or private enterprise, but also to think about what the next generation is going to look like.

Resiliency, as it was known five years ago, is nothing like supply chain resiliency today, and where we want to take it into the future. You need only look at the US national strategy for global supply chain security to understand that. When it was announced in January of this year at Davos by Secretary Napolitano of the DHS, she made it quite clear that we’re now putting security at the forefront, and resiliency is a part of that security endeavor.

So that mindset is a change, given the reliance ubiquitously on communications, for everything, everywhere, at all times — not only critical infrastructure, but private enterprise, as well as all of us on a daily basis today. Our communications infrastructure is essential to us.

Thinking about resiliency

Given that security has taken top ranking, we’re probably at the beginning of this stage of thinking about resiliency. It’s not just about continuity of supply, not just about prevention from the kinds of cyber incidents that we’re worried about, but also to be cognizant of those nation-state concerns or personal concerns that would arise from those parties who are engaging in malicious activity, either for political, religious or reasons.

Or, as you know, some of them are just interested in seeing whether or not they can challenge the system, and that causes loss of productivity and a loss of time. In some cases, there are devastating negative impacts to infrastructure.

Szakal: There’s another area too that I am highly focused on, but have kind of set aside, and that’s the continued development and formalization of the framework itself that is to continue the collective best practices from the industry and provide some sort of methods by which vendors can submit and externalize those best practices. So those are a couple of areas that I think that would keep me busy for the next 12 months easily.

Gardner: What do IT vendors companies gain if they do this properly?

Secure by Design

Szakal: Especially now in this day and age, any time that you actually approach security as part of the lifecycle — what we call an IBM Secure by Design — you’re going to be ahead of the market in some ways. You’re going to be in a better place. All of these best practices that we’ve defined are additive in effect. However, the very nature of technology as it exists today is that it will be probably another 50 or so years, before we see a perfect security paradigm in the way that we all think about it.

So the researchers are going to be ahead of all of the providers in many ways in identifying security flaws and helping us to remediate those practices. That’s part of what we’re doing here, trying to make sure that we continue to keep these practices up to date and relevant to the entire lifecycle of commercial off-the-shelf technology (COTS) development.

So that’s important, but you also have to be realistic about the best practices as they exist today. The bar is going to move as we address future challenges.

************

For more information on The Open Group’s upcoming conference in Washington, D.C., please visit: http://www.opengroup.org/dc2012

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and Cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news editor covering the emerging software development and enterprise infrastructure arenas for the last 18 years.

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Filed under Cybersecurity, Information security, OTTF, Supply chain risk

Cybersecurity Threats Key Theme at Washington, D.C. Conference – July 16-20, 2012

By The Open Group Conference Team

Identify risks and eliminating vulnerabilities that could undermine integrity and supply chain security is a significant global challenge and a top priority for governments, vendors, component suppliers, integrators and commercial enterprises around the world.

The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C. will bring together leading minds in technology and government policy to discuss issues around cybersecurity and how enterprises can establish and maintain the necessary levels of integrity in a global supply chain. In addition to tutorial sessions on TOGAF and ArchiMate, the conference offers approximately 60 sessions on a varied of topics, including:

  • Cybersecurity threats and key approaches to defending critical assets and securing the global supply chain
  • Information security and Cloud security for global, open network environments within and across enterprises
  • Enterprise transformation, including Enterprise Architecture, TOGAF and SOA
  • Cloud Computing for business, collaborative Cloud frameworks and Cloud architectures
  • Transforming DoD avionics software through the use of open standards

Keynote sessions and speakers include:

  • America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime and Warfare – Keynote Speaker: Joel Brenner, author and attorney at Cooley LLP
  • Meeting the Challenge of Cybersecurity Threats through Industry-Government Partnerships – Keynote Speaker: Kristin Baldwin, principal deputy, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Systems Engineering
  • Implementation of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ron Ross, project leader at NIST (TBC)
  • Supply Chain: Mitigating Tainted and Counterfeit Products – Keynote Panel: Andras Szakal, VP and CTO at IBM Federal; Daniel Reddy, consulting product manager in the Product Security Office at EMC Corporation; John Boyens, senior advisor in the Computer Security Division at NIST; Edna Conway, chief security strategist of supply chain at Cisco; and Hart Rossman, VP and CTO of Cyber Security Services at SAIC
  • The New Role of Open Standards – Keynote Speaker: Allen Brown, CEO of The Open Group
  • Case Study: Ontario Healthcare – Keynote Speaker: Jason Uppal, chief enterprise architect at QRS
  • Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE): Transforming the DoD Avionics Software Industry Through the Use of Open Standards – Keynote Speaker: Judy Cerenzia, program director at The Open Group; Kirk Avery of Lockheed Martin; and Robert Sweeney of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)

The full program can be found here: http://www3.opengroup.org/events/timetable/967

For more information on the conference tracks or to register, please visit our conference registration page. Please stay tuned throughout the next month as we continue to release blog posts and information leading up to The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C. and be sure to follow the conference hashtag on Twitter – #ogDCA!

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Filed under ArchiMate®, Cloud, Cloud/SOA, Conference, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Architecture, Information security, OTTF, Standards, Supply chain risk

Corporate Data, Supply Chains Remain Vulnerable to Cyber Crime Attacks, Says Open Group Conference Speaker

By Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solutions 

This BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview comes in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C., beginning July 16. The conference will focus on how security impacts the Enterprise Architecture, enterprise transformation, and global supply chain activities in organizations, both large and small.

We’re now joined on the security front with one of the main speakers at the conference, Joel Brenner, the author of America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare.”

Joel is a former Senior Counsel at the National Security Agency (NSA), where he advised on legal and policy issues relating to network security. Mr. Brenner currently practices law in Washington at Cooley LLP, specializing in cyber security. Registration remains open for The Open Group Conference in Washington, DC beginning July 16.

Previously, he served as the National Counterintelligence Executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and as the NSA’s Inspector General. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin–Madison, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. The full podcast can be found here.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Your book came out last September and it affirmed this notion that the United States, or at least open Western cultures and societies, are particularly vulnerable to being infiltrated, if you will, from cybercrime, espionage, and dirty corporate tricks.

Why are we particularly vulnerable, when we should be most adept at using cyber activities to our advantage?

Brenner: Let’s make a distinction here between the political-military espionage that’s gone on since pre-biblical times and the economic espionage that’s going on now and, in many cases, has nothing to do at all to do with military, defense, or political issues.

The other stuff has been going on forever, but what we’ve seen in the last 15 or so years is a relentless espionage attack on private companies for reasons having nothing to do with political-military affairs or defense.

So the countries that are adept at cyber, but whose economies are relatively undeveloped compared to ours, are at a big advantage, because they’re not very lucrative targets for this kind of thing, and we are. Russia, for example, is paradoxical. While it has one of the most educated populations in the world and is deeply cultured, it has never been able to produce a commercially viable computer chip.

Not entrepreneurial

We’re not going to Russia to steal advanced technology. We’re not going to China to steal advanced technology. They’re good at engineering and they’re good at production, but so far, they have not been good at making themselves into an entrepreneurial culture.

That’s one just very cynical reason why we don’t do economic espionage against the people who are mainly attacking us, which are China, Russia, and Iran. I say attack in the espionage sense.

The other reason is that you’re stealing intellectual property when you’re doing economic espionage. It’s a bedrock proposition of American economics and political strategy around the world to defend the legal regime that protects intellectual property. So we don’t do that kind of espionage. Political-military stuff we’re real good at.

Gardner: Wouldn’t our defense rise to the occasion? Why hasn’t it?

Brenner: The answer has a lot to do with the nature of the Internet and its history. The Internet, as some of your listeners will know, was developed starting in the late ’60s by the predecessor of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a brilliant operation which produced a lot of cool science over the years.

It was developed for a very limited purpose, to allow the collaboration of geographically dispersed scientists who worked under contract in various universities with the Defense Department’s own scientists. It was bringing dispersed brainpower to bear.

It was a brilliant idea, and the people who invented this, if you talk to them today, lament the fact that they didn’t build a security layer into it. They thought about it. But it wasn’t going to be used for anything else but this limited purpose in a trusted environment, so why go to the expense and aggravation of building a lot of security into it?

Until 1992, it was against the law to use the Internet for commercial purposes. Dana, this is just amazing to realize. That’s 20 years ago, a twinkling of an eye in the history of a country’s commerce. That means that 20 years ago, nobody was doing anything commercial on the Internet. Ten years ago, what were you doing on the Internet, Dana? Buying a book for the first time or something like that? That’s what I was doing, and a newspaper.

In the intervening decade, we’ve turned this sort of Swiss cheese, cool network, which has brought us dramatic productivity and all and pleasure into the backbone of virtually everything we do.

International finance, personal finance, command and control of military, manufacturing controls, the controls in our critical infrastructure, all of our communications, virtually all of our activities are either on the Internet or exposed to the Internet. And it’s the same Internet that was Swiss cheese 20 years ago and it’s Swiss cheese now. It’s easy to spoof identities on it.

So this gives a natural and profound advantage to attack on this network over defense. That’s why we’re in the predicament we’re in.

Both directions

Gardner: Let’s also look at this notion of supply chain, because corporations aren’t just islands unto themselves. A business is really a compendium of other businesses, products, services, best practices, methodologies, and intellectual property that come together to create a value add of some kind. It’s not just attacking the end point, where that value is extended into the market. It’s perhaps attacking anywhere along that value chain.

What are the implications for this notion of the ecosystem vulnerability versus the enterprise vulnerability?

Brenner: Well, the supply chain problem really is rather daunting for many businesses, because supply chains are global now, and it means that the elements of finished products have a tremendous numbers of elements. For example, this software, where was it written? Maybe it was written in Russia — or maybe somewhere in Ohio or in Nevada, but by whom? We don’t know.

There are two fundamental different issues for supply chain, depending on the company. One is counterfeiting. That’s a bad problem. Somebody is trying to substitute shoddy goods under your name or the name of somebody that you thought you could trust. That degrades performance and presents real serious liability problems as a result.

The other problem is the intentional hooking, or compromising, of software or chips to do things that they’re not meant to do, such as allow backdoors and so on in systems, so that they can be attacked later. That’s a big problem for military and for the intelligence services all around the world.

The reason we have the problem is that nobody knows how to vet a computer chip or software to see that it won’t do thesesquirrelly things. We can test that stuff to make sure it will do what it’s supposed to do, but nobody knows how to test the computer chip or two million lines of software reliably to be sure that it won’t also do certain things we don’t want it to do.

You can put it in a sandbox or a virtual environment and you can test it for a lot of things, but you can’t test it for everything. It’s just impossible. In hardware and software, it is thestrategic supply chain problem now. That’s why we have it.

If you have a worldwide supply chain, you have to have a worldwide supply chain management system. This is hard and it means getting very specific. It includes not only managing a production process, but also the shipment process. A lot of squirrelly things happen on loading docks, and you have to have a way not to bring perfect security to that — that’s impossible — but to make it really harder to attack your supply chain.

Notion of cost

Gardner: So many organizations today, given the economy and the lagging growth, have looked to lowest cost procedures, processes, suppliers, materials, and aren’t factoring in the risk and the associated cost around these security issues. Do people need to reevaluate cost in the supply chain by factoring in what the true risks are that we’re discussing?

Brenner: Yes, but of course, when the CEO and the CFO get together and start to figure this stuff out, they look at the return on investment (ROI) of additional security. It’s very hard to be quantitatively persuasive about that. That’s one reason why you may see some kinds of production coming back into the United States. How one evaluates that risk depends on the business you’re in and how much risk you can tolerate.

This is a problem not just for really sensitive hardware and software, special kinds of operations, or sensitive activities, but also for garden-variety things.

Gardner: We’ve seen other aspects of commerce in which we can’t lock down the process. We can’t know all the information, but what we can do is offer deterrence, perhaps in the form of legal recourse, if something goes wrong, if in fact, decisions were made that countered the contracts or were against certain laws or trade practices.

Brenner: For a couple of years now, I’ve struggled with the question why it is that liability hasn’t played a bigger role in bringing more cyber security to our environment, and there are a number of reasons.

We’ve created liability for the loss of personal information, so you can quantify that risk. You have a statute that says there’s a minimum damage of $500 or $1,000 per person whose identifiable information you lose. You add up the number of files in the breach and how much the lawyers and the forensic guys cost and you come up with a calculation of what these things cost.

But when it comes to just business risk, not legal risk, and the law says intellectual property to a company that depends on that intellectual property, you have a business risk. You don’t have much of a legal risk at this point.

You may have a shareholder suit issue, but there hasn’t been an awful lot of that kind of litigation so far. So I don’t know. I’m not sure that’s quite the question you were asking me, Dana.

Gardner: My follow on to that was going to be where would you go to sue across borders anyway? Is there an über-regulatory or legal structure across borders to target things like supply chain, counterfeit, cyber espionage, or mistreatment of business practice?

Depends on the borders

Brenner: It depends on the borders you’re talking about. The Europeans have a highly developed legal and liability system. You can bring actions in European courts. So it depends what borders you mean.

If you’re talking about the border of Russia, you have very different legal issues. China has different legal issues, different from Russia, as well from Iran. There are an increasing number of cases where actions are being brought in China successfully for breaches of intellectual property rights. But you wouldn’t say that was the case in Nigeria. You wouldn’t say that was the case in a number of other countries where we’ve had a lot of cybercrime originating from.

So there’s no one solution here. You have to think in terms of all kinds of layered defenses. There are legal actions you can take sometimes, but the fundamental problem we’re dealing with is this inherently porous Swiss-cheesy system. In the long run, we’re going to have to begin thinking about the gradual reengineering of the way the Internet works, or else this basic dynamic, in which lawbreakers have advantage over law-abiding people, is not going to go away.

Think about what’s happened in cyber defenses over the last 10 years and how little they’ve evolved — even 20 years for that matter. They almost all require us to know the attack mode or the sequence of code in order to catch it. And we get better at that, but that’s a leapfrog business. That’s fundamentally the way we do it.

Whether we do it at the perimeter, inside, or even outside before the attack gets to the perimeter, that’s what we’re looking for — stuff we’ve already seen. That’s a very poor strategy for doing security, but that’s where we are. It hasn’t changed much in quite a long time and it’s probably not going to.

Gardner: Why is that the case? Is this not a perfect opportunity for a business-government partnership to come together and re-architect the Internet at least for certain types of business activities, permit a two-tier approach, and add different levels of security into that? Why hasn’t it gone anywhere?

Brenner: What I think you’re saying is different tiers or segments. We’re talking about the Balkanization of the Internet. I think that’s going to happen as more companies demand a higher level of protection, but this again is a cost-benefit analysis. You’re going to see even more Balkanization of the Internet as you see countries like Russia and China, with some success, imposing more controls over what can be said and done on the Internet. That’s not going to be acceptable to us.

Gardner: We’ve seen a lot with Cloud Computing and more businesses starting to go to third-party Cloud providers for their applications, services, data storage, even integration to other business services and so forth.

More secure

If there’s a limited lumber, or at least a finite number, of Cloud providers and they can institute the proper security and take advantage of certain networks within networks, then wouldn’t that hypothetically make a Cloud approach more secure and more managed than every-man-for-himself, which is what we have now in enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs)?

Brenner: I think the short answer is, yes. The SMBs will achieve greater security by basically contracting it out to what are called Cloud providers. That’s because managing the patching of vulnerabilities and other aspects and encryption is beyond what’s most small businesses and many medium-sized businesses can do, are willing to do, or can do cost-effectively.

For big businesses in the Cloud, it just depends on how good the big businesses’ own management of IT is as to whether it’s an improvement or not. But there are some problems with the Cloud.

People talk about security, but there are different aspects of it. You and I have been talking just now about security meaning the ability to prevent somebody from stealing or corrupting your information. But availability is another aspect of security. By definition, putting everything in one remote place reduces robustness, because if you lose that connection, you lose everything.

Consequently, it seems to me that backup issues are really critical for people who are going to the Cloud. Are you going to rely on your Cloud provider to provide the backup? Are you going to rely on the Cloud provider to provide all of your backup? Are you going to go to a second Cloud provider? Are you going to keep some information copied in-house?

What would happen if your information is good, but you can’t get to it? That means you can’t get to anything anymore. So that’s another aspect of security people need to think through.

Gardner: How do you know you’re doing the right thing? How do you know that you’re protecting? How do you know that you’ve gone far enough to ameliorate the risk?

Brenner: This is really hard. If somebody steals your car tonight, Dana, you go out to the curb or the garage in the morning, and you know it’s not there. You know it’s been stolen.

When somebody steals your algorithms, your formulas, or your secret processes, you’ve still got them. You don’t know they’re gone, until three or four years later, when somebody in Central China or Siberia is opening a factory and selling stuff into your market that you thought you were going to be selling — and that’s your stuff. Then maybe you go back and realize, “Oh, that incident three or four years ago, maybe that’s when that happened, maybe that’s when I lost it.”

What’s going out

So you don’t even know necessarily when things have been stolen. Most companies don’t do a good job. They’re so busy trying to find out what’s coming into their network, they’re not looking at what’s going out.

That’s one reason the stuff is hard to measure. Another is that ROI is very tough. On the other hand, there are lots of things where business people have to make important judgments in the face of risks and opportunities they can’t quantify, but we do it.

We’re right to want data whenever we can get it, because data generally means we can make better decisions. But we make decisions about investment in R&D all the time without knowing what the ROI is going to be and we certainly don’t know what the return on a particular R&D expenditure is going to be. But we make that, because people are convinced that if they don’t make it, they’ll fall behind and they’ll be selling yesterday’s products tomorrow.

Why is it that we have a bias toward that kind of risk, when it comes to opportunity, but not when it comes to defense? I think we need to be candid about our own biases in that regard, but I don’t have a satisfactory answer to your question, and nobody else does either. This is one where we can’t quantify that answer.

Gardner: It sounds as if people need to have a healthy dose of paranoia to tide them over across these areas. Is that a fair assessment?

Brenner: Well, let’s say skepticism. People need to understand, without actually being paranoid, that life is not always what it seems. There are people who are trying to steal things from us all the time, and we need to protect ourselves.

In many companies, you don’t see a willingness to do that, but that varies a great deal from company to company. Things are not always what they seem. That is not how we Americans approach life. We are trusting folks, which is why this is a great country to do business in and live in. But we’re having our pockets picked and it’s time we understood that.

Gardner: And, as we pointed out earlier, this picking of pockets is not just on our block, but could be any of our suppliers, partners, or other players in our ecosystem. If their pockets get picked, it ends up being our problem too.

Brenner: Yeah, I described this risk in my book, America the Vulnerable,” at great length and in my practice, here at Cooley, I deal with this every day. I find myself, Dana, giving briefings to businesspeople that 5, 10, or 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have given to anybody who wasn’t a diplomat or a military person going outside the country. Now this kind of cyber pilferage is an aspect of daily commercial life, I’m sorry to say.

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For more information on The Open Group’s upcoming conference in Washington, D.C., please visit: http://www.opengroup.org/dc2012

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and Cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news editor covering the emerging software development and enterprise infrastructure arenas for the last 18 years.

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Filed under Cloud, Cybersecurity, Supply chain risk