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[ISN] DOD must fix product security evaluation process, officials say


By Jason Miller
January 22, 2008

The Defense Departments process for evaluating products to ensure they 
meet the agencys information technology security requirements is broken. 
But senior DOD leaders say a fix is on the way.

Richard Hale, the Defense Information Systems Agencys chief of 
information assurance, said the services too often analyze products 
after they have been certified by the National Information Assurance 
Partnership (NIAP), which is run by the National Security Agency.

We tried to come up with a single evaluation process for everyone, but 
NIAP hasnt done what we wanted it to do, Hale said today during a lunch 
discussion sponsored by AFCEAs Washington chapter in Arlington, Va. We 
would want a single entity to approve for all of DOD and maybe the 
intelligence community.

Hale said that even after NIAP certifies a product, services retest it 
based on their specific criteria.

He said he would like to see services analyze products based on their 
mission risk but accept basic security evaluations done by NIAP.

Speed is what we are after, he said. If you cant deploy until you finish 
an internal evaluation and certification and accreditation that takes 
too long.

Hale said the work being done by Dale Meyerrose, chief information 
officer at the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, should 
lead to a single entity and a single set of standards for certification 
and accreditation in addition to testing.

He said a draft set of information assurance controls is making its way 
around agencies for comment. A working group consisting of members from 
ODNI, DOD, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology 
developed the standard.

These standards may not completely take care of the NIAP problem, but it 
will help, Hale said.

The Army is leading an effort to test and evaluate and certify and 
accredit software Defense-wide, and that experience may also help this 
problem, Hale said.

Hank Beebe, technical director for command and control programs, said 
once the Armys operational testing authority approves software, the rest 
of the services testing authorities dont need to re-evaluate it.

We arent there yet for C&A, but we are working hard toward it, Beebe 

The Federated Development and Certification Environment (FDCE) started 
in 2004 but really got going in the past year or so, Hale said.

The process brings all stakeholders - developers, users, testers, 
security and otherstogether as software is developed so it can be 
brought to use more quickly.

We are starting to use uniform security controls and develop specifics 
of the certification process as a part of the FDCE, Hale said.

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