I have a great job at CA Technologies, I can't deny it. Working in CA Technologies Federal Certification Program Office, I have the responsibility of knowing what certifications, accreditations, mandates, etc. are relevant and then helping them get implemented.
One of the responsibilities (and benefits) of my job is getting to go to great conferences like the RSA Security Conference which just wrapped last week. This year I was honored to be selected by the Program Committee to speak twice at the event. Both talks fit well to the Policy and Government track at the show.
First I was on a panel with a distinguished group of senior leaders from both industry and government. The title of the session was, Certification of Products or Accreditation of Organizations: Which to Do? The idea was to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of individual product certifications vs. looking at an entire company or business unit. Since I've led CA through many product certifications (certs) and have been involved in accreditation programs as well, my position was to be able to bring real-world industry perspective to the panel. The point I tried to make was that product certs (like Common Criteria - CC) add value, but only for the specific purpose that they are designed for (security functions). We've seen CC expanding beyond just security enforcing products and that's concerning. Product certs are expensive, time consuming and take away from time that could be spent on innovation. We want to do CC when it will be long lasting and add value.
On the idea of accreditation of organizations, I first talked about CMMI and my views on its challenges. I then shifted to the Open Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF) as I've written about before and said that the accreditation program that group is building is more focused than CMMI. OTTF is building something that - when adopted by industry and THEIR suppliers - will provide assurance that technology is being built the right way (best practices) and will give acquirers confidence that products bought from vendors that have the OTTF mark can be trusted. The overall conclusion of the panel was that accreditation of organizations and certifications of products both had a place, and that it is important that the value was understood by buyers and vendors.
A couple of days later, I presented with Mary Ann Davidson, CSO of Oracle. The main point of the talk was to try and give the industry perspective on mandates, legislation and regulations - which all seemed to be focused on technology providers - to solve the cyber security issues which we see every day. We agreed that sometimes regulations make sense but having a clear problem definition, language and limited scope was the path to success and acceptance. We also encouraged government to get involved with industry via public/private partnerships, like The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum.
Collaboration is the key to fighting the cyber security battle. If you are interested in hearing more about ways to get involved in building a safer and more productive computing environment, feel free to contact me or leave a comment on this blog. Cybersecurity is a complicated issue and there were well over 20,000 security professionals discussing it at RSA Conference. We'd love to hear your views as well.
Photo of Joshua Brickman and Mary Ann Davidson courtesy of Sally Long, The Open Group