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A new computer system is a blank slate with no worries of botnets, viruses or any other cyber security hazards – or is it?
Information systems and components are under attack throughout the supply chain from the design phase, including specification and acquisition of custom products, through disposal, said computer researcher Marianne Swanson at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and lead author of a draft report, “Piloting Supply Chain Risk Management for Federal Information Systems.”
“Computer systems are under attack before installation by adversaries enabled by growing technological sophistication and facilitated by the rapid globalization of our information system infrastructure, suppliers and adversaries,” Swanson said.
A public draft of the new report is now out for comment, NIST officials said.
The supply chain report is for information systems categorized as “high-impact level,” systems for which the loss of confidentiality, integrity or availability could have a “severe or catastrophic adverse effect on organizational operations, organizational assets or individuals.”
The report provides an array of practices designed to help mitigate supply chain risk throughout the life cycle, not just on accepting systems and products “as they are” and managing risks after delivery. The practices come from security procedures found in NIST special publications, and those from the National Defense University and the National Defense Industry Association, and these include implementations specific to mitigating supply chain risk.
Typical examples of good practices recommended in the report include integrating information security and supply chain requirements from inception of the project, protecting the supply chain environment, hardening the supply chain delivering mechanisms and configuring the product to limit access and exposure.
Other recommendations include:
• Ensure your information system security, acquisition personnel, legal counsel, and other appropriate advisors and stakeholders are participating in decision making from system concept definition through review and are involved or approving each milestone decision.
• Ensure the proper funding is allocated for information system security and supply chain risk management
• Follow consistent, well-documented processes for system engineering and acquisition
• Provide oversight of suppliers
• Audit the development process
• Perform quality assurance and control of security features
• Assign roles and responsibilities and follow them
• Fully implement the tailored set of baseline security controls in NIST Special Publication 800-53 appropriate to the system’s impact level.
The supply chain security report is for information system owners, acquisition staff, information security personnel and systems engineers.
NIST is requesting comments on the draft document to go to by August 15.
The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative 11, “Develop Multi-Pronged Approach for Global Supply Chain Risk Management,” currently is pilot testing the practices. To get a more thorough sample, the writers of this draft report are asking readers to consider testing a few of the practices and to provide comments and lessons learned to the same e-mail address by Dec. 30, 2010.

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