By Joshua Brickman, CA Technologies
A couple of weeks ago while the Supreme Court heard testimony about the constitutionality of “Obamacare,” I was glued to my computer watching the House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Energy and Commerce hear a very different but no less important type of testimony. The topic was supply chain integrity and security. Two panels appeared before the committee – one containing U.S. government agencies; and the other focused on industry’s response to the issue. Representing industry was Dave Lounsbury from The Open Group. While it seemed to me that the focus of the committee was the lack of preparedness some agencies had for supply chain attacks, Lounsbury admirably represented how industry is responding to the burgeoning topic with a public/private partnership and a consensus-driven process.
The process he referred to is the Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) for which the Open Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) published a snapshot of this past February. In full disclosure, I represent a founding member of OTTF. You might say I have a vested interest in the O-TTPS becoming the de-facto standard for supply chain integrity and security, and you would be right. But that’s not just because I worked on the creation of this document. It’s because, as Lounsbury emphasized to the House, I believe the right way to ensure the integrity and security for the supply chains of acquirers or purchasers of technology is to build a consensus driven standard that focuses on the best practices needed to ensure the integrity of the product being produced. This would allow acquirers to buy products with confidence. With this “snapshot” release, we’ve focused on the two most prevalent threats
- Tainted product – the product is produced by the provider and is acquired through reputable channels but has been tampered with maliciously.
- Counterfeit product – the product is produced other than by, or for, the provider, or is supplied by other than a reputable channel, and is presented as being legitimate.
For the first time, industry has come together and put together a comprehensive set of best practices that, when followed, can help to protect the supply chain for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products starting with sourcing, through manufacturing, and ending with delivery to the customer.
But the work is not done. Now that we have a snapshot, the team is working hard to define conformance criteria as well as an accreditation program. The next quarterly meeting at the upcoming Open Group Cannes conference will have some great opportunities for people to hear more about OTTF.
- Andras Szakal, Chief Technology Officer, IBM U.S. Federal, will present as a part of the Open Trusted Technology Track a talk entitled, “The Global Supply Chain: Presentation and Discussion on The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum and the Challenges of Protecting Products Against Counterfeit and Tampering”
- Sally Long, Director, The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum, U.S., will follow with “The Global Supply Chain: Presentation and Discussion on The Open Group Trusted Identifying Trusted Technology Providers – What are the Conformance Criteria that Technology Providers and their Component Suppliers need to Meet to be Considered Trusted Technology Providers?”
When Rep. Terry from Nebraska asked Lounsbury if additional definition (regulations) was needed for ensuring the integrity of the supply chain, Lounsbury answered perfectly when he said: “Ultimately the use of COTs implies that an agency purchases from a commercial marketplace. The question is what are the standards that your supplier uses to demonstrate that they can be trusted? Part of that would be the processes they have for themselves throughout their product development and fulfillment lifecycle but also are they imposing those standards on their suppliers as well.”
Rep. Terry followed up: “Do you think that is sufficient? How do they have a level of surety that somethings not being compromised way down the assembly line?”
Lounsbury: “In the commercial world typically we look to some sort of a conformance program in which a supplier would submit evidence either through a third party lab and certainly to an independent certification authority to make sure in fact that they have some evidence of those best practices before they are recognized as a trusted partner.”
It’s clear that government is concerned about this issue. The OTTF is building a standard that customers can point to and ask suppliers about. When the OTTF finishes its conformance criteria, rolls out the accreditation program and vendors become accredited, that will help provide a level of “surety” that Rep. Terry and others on the committee want.
 Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS), Catalog number S121, Feb 2012, p1-2