As a security practitioner, you’ve got to love it when your company comes out with a line like “Security is our brand” [1] and the press eats it up. Of course, security has always been our brand and, on the Open Source side, we have done some significant things to prove it. I’m speaking here of our multi-million dollar investment over the course of many years to Common Criteria certify Red Hat and Novell SUSE. We started out at EAL2 with the security functionality defined in our Security Target against the pre-existing security functionality in SLES 8. We got that evaluation done within 6 months when everybody was saying that it couldn’t be done – ‘Common Criteria certification takes years’, ‘open source can’t be certified’ they said. From that ground work, we marched up the value chain to LSPP/RBACPP/CAPP at EAL4+ with RHEL5 when still (after 6 successful evaluations at progressive levels) people were saying that it couldn’t be done (although much more subtly now) – “The lack of this protection might prevent another evaluation target from passing this evaluation.” [2]

Our LSPP evaluation included more hardware platforms in one evaluation (7) than all previous completed LSPP certifications combined. The beauty of the range of platforms certified is that it allows government agencies who need LSPP to also take advantage of the scale-up and scale-out capabilities inherent in Linux. As a tax payer, I love this because it allows government agencies to benefit from the lower TCO that Linux and open source software provide.

The LSPP evaluation, in my eyes, constitutes a revalidation of the open source development methodology because the project included competing and cooperating companies, along with government, distro, and individual contributors who were contributing as a labor of love and because they believe in the necessity of adding this level of security to Linux.

When we completed the LSPP evaluation, I went back and looked at all of the people who had contributed to the Common Criteria certification effort over the years. Just within IBM, the number went into the high double digits. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the dedication and passion for security shown by Novell and Red Hat. And our evaluator was invaluable – the insight, integrity and sheer brilliance of the people working for atsec is without measure or compare.

Security is Our Brand!