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.
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 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.