Agencies to review Common Criteria

NIAP

Federal civilian agencies will soon review the potential benefits of an international security standard as a guide for commercial software purchases, according to Karen Evans, the new administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of E-Government and Information Technology.

The Bush administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace includes a plan to review the national security community's use of the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme. That review is an important part of determining how to improve IT security in civilian agencies, Evans told the House Government Reform Committee today.

In the United States, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency's National Infrastructure Assurance Partnership (NIAP) oversee Common Criteria implementation. Products that pass are certified that they will do exactly what the vendor says.

The Defense Department since July 2002 has required Common Criteria certification for all its security-related purchases. OMB's review will look at whether that has improved DOD's cybersecurity. Civilian agencies also need to know if it can help, Evans said.

"The review will consider to what extent, if any, NIAP can address the continuing problem of security flaws in commercial software products," she said.

There have been many questions about Common Criteria's usefulness and effectiveness, and committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), said he will keep track of the review.

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