As the focus on securing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) supply chains intensifies, the number of standards and guidelines is increasing at a troubling pace. These well-intended efforts to provide a framework for security may very well be “cooking the global ICT supply chain goose,” without moving the security needle. For more on this challenge see SC Magazine from the CSO’s Desk: The proliferation of mandates.
On September 19 at Progress Report from the Supply Chain Security Technical Working Group (September 19 2012), a status report was presented from the Supply Chain Security Technical Work Group which was formed in March 2012 with the approval of the Common Criteria Development Board, in order to produce a Common Criteria Supporting Document that technical communities can use and adapt for their protection profiles.
The information and communications technology (ICT) supply chain has become increasingly complex, with logically long and geographically diverse routes, including multiple tiers of outsourcing. This leads to a significant increase in the number of organizations and individuals who “touch” a product, and thus, increase the likelihood that a product’s integrity will be compromised. Ensuring that ICT products from commercial software and hardware providers are free from vulnerabilities introduced via the product developer’s supply chain is an increasing concern which has manifested in proposed legislation and draft government regulations, as well as publicized attacks.
Exacerbating those concerns is the fact that awareness of supply chain risks and potential mitigations is not widely shared within the ICT industry, academia, government regulators, and product acquirers.
The product life cycle and its corresponding supply chain aspects extend from design to sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, delivery, installation, support, and end-of-life. Each stage presents potential threats of attack: the introduction of counterfeit products or components; elements of product taint, for example via malware or an integrity breach; disruptions to logistics and delivery; as well as tampered communications between the product developer and the customer or the customer and supplier.
The initial Supply Chain Security Supporting Document will describe several of these threats in more detail, specify additional threats, suggest assurance requirements, and recommend best practices for product manufacturers, evaluators, certifiers and end users.
As communities incorporate targeted material from the Supply Chain Supporting Document in protection profiles and vendors complete Common Criteria security evaluations against those protection profiles, customers will gain additional assurance of the product developer’s actions to secure their supply chain, and confidence in the manufactured product they are receiving; all under the globally accepted Common Criteria framework.
More and more, we ask technology to play critical roles in our businesses, and our lives. Pondering that for a moment, that dependance (versus use), requires careful thought on how much we trust that the technology is working as we want it, only as we want it, and nothing more. For many businesses or governments, testing via FIPS or Common Criteria increases that confidence level, combined with detailed operational plans to ensure running the services after they are installed is going correctly. For many technology vendors, innovation and commitment, can help here.
Our commitment at Cisco, and our innovation, for trustworthiness have never been stronger than they are today. Nearly 5 years ago, we started down a road which ultimately led to Cisco’s Secure Development Lifecycle (CSDL), and in our most recent FY12 SEC 10-K, acknowledged that work, our secure supply chain work, and our innovation efforts for Secure Boot and Anti-Tamper. For reference, that 10K, or 2012 Annual Report, is posted here: http://investor.cisco.com/
We foresaw the need for trustworthiness by listening to our customers, and we started early. Early results are in, and we’ve both reduced externally found security flaws, as well as increased the resiliency for multiple products anti-tamper. Have we done it on every product? Not yet, although rest assured, that’s exactly where we are going. I’ll keep you posted.