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National Information Assurance Partnership

Assurance Partnership

Definition

The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is a collaboration between the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the development and implementation of security standards and best practices for information technology products. Through this partnership, NIAP aims to improve the security and trustworthiness of IT products used in both government and private sectors.

Key Takeaways

  1. The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is a collaboration between the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), aimed at improving the security of information systems and networks within the United States.
  2. NIAP functions as a comprehensive security evaluation program, providing a framework for evaluating the security of commercial products, such as operating systems, network devices, and software applications, against internationally recognized security standards.
  3. By participating in the NIAP evaluation process, manufacturers and vendors can demonstrate their commitment to robust and reliable security, resulting in an increased level of trust and confidence for consumers and organizations who rely on these evaluated products to protect their sensitive data and critical infrastructure.

Importance

The technology term “National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP)” holds significant importance as it represents a collaboration between the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This partnership aims to develop and promote robust cybersecurity standards and evaluation methodologies that ensure the security, confidentiality, and integrity of information in technology products.

By establishing a framework to evaluate and validate the security features of commercial Information Technology (IT) products, NIAP safeguards sensitive data and information systems.

The unified approach to assurance and certification helps organizations minimize risks associated with their IT infrastructures, fostering confidence, trust, and resilience in the ever-evolving cyber landscape.

Explanation

The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is a collaboration between the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with the primary purpose of promoting the development and use of evaluated, reliable, and efficient IT security solutions. This is accomplished through the establishment of a strong and robust evaluation process to validate commercial information security products.

The NIAP aims to facilitate the integration of these secure products into crucial national and international IT infrastructures and systems. By bringing together the expertise of both NIST and NSA, the partnership fosters a collaborative environment to ensure that the nation’s critical infrastructure and information systems are protected against potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

One of the key functions of the NIAP is to administer the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) for IT Security in the United States. The Common Criteria is an internationally recognized set of standards and guidelines that evaluates and verifies the security features and assurance levels of IT products, such as firewalls, operating systems, and access control devices.

The NIAP serves as a crucial hub for both government and commercial organizations by ensuring that IT products entering the market have been thoroughly evaluated for their security capabilities. This, in turn, provides organizations with the confidence that the technology products they are utilizing meet specific security requirements, mitigating potential risks and adhering to federal regulations.

Examples of National Information Assurance Partnership

The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is a U.S. government program that aims to evaluate and certify the security of commercial Information Technology (IT) products and promote the development of secure products within the IT industry. Three real-world examples showcasing NIAP’s role in promoting information security are:

NIAP’s Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS): The CCEVS is designed for assessing the security features of IT products, such as firewalls, routers, and operating systems. The evaluation is conducted against the internationally recognized Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation. For example, Cisco, a leading technology company, had several of their products evaluated under the NIAP’s CCEVS, ensuring their customers can trust the security of these products.

Collaboration with International Partners: NIAP works closely with its international partners to align their information assurance efforts. For instance, NIAP is a member of the International Common Criteria Conference (ICCC), which promotes the adoption of Common Criteria worldwide. This collaboration ensures that countries share a common set of cybersecurity principles and standards across borders and facilitates the international trade of secure IT products.

Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs): The NIAP, in collaboration with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), has developed numerous STIGs for IT products used in the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies. STIGs provide guidance on the secure configuration of these products and are essential to maintaining a strong security posture within federal networks. Examples include guides for Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, and Samsung Knox, which are widely used in government agencies.

National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) FAQ

What is the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP)?

The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is a United States government initiative aimed at promoting the development and use of evaluated IT products and systems to ensure information security. Operated by the National Security Agency (NSA), the NIAP works in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop security standards and evaluation criteria under the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) for IT security products.

What is the purpose of NIAP?

The main purpose of NIAP is to ensure the security and trustworthiness of IT products and systems used within the U.S. government and military by evaluating and validating their security features according to a common set of internationally accepted criteria. This helps organizations to select commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products that meet their security requirements and protect their critical information and infrastructure from potential threats and vulnerabilities.

What is the Common Criteria?

The Common Criteria (CC) is an international set of guidelines and specifications for evaluating information security products and systems. It was developed by a group of countries, including the United States, Canada, and European Union member states, to provide a common framework for product evaluation and validation, leading to improved security, interoperability, and assurance for IT products and systems worldwide.

How do I become a Common Criteria Testing Laboratory (CCTL)?

To become a Common Criteria Testing Laboratory (CCTL), the organization must undergo an accreditation process established by their country’s respective Scheme. In the United States, this process is managed by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP). This process includes an assessment of the laboratory’s technical competence, quality management system, and adherence to proper testing and evaluation methodologies. Once accredited, a CCTL can perform evaluations and validations of IT products and systems under the Common Criteria.

How do I submit a product for NIAP evaluation?

Before submitting an IT product for NIAP evaluation, you should choose an accredited CCTL to perform the evaluation. Then, contact them directly to discuss the evaluation process, documentation requirements, and fees involved. Prepare the necessary documentation (Security Target, Evaluation evidence, etc.) and work with the CCTL during the evaluation process. Once the evaluation is completed and your product satisfies the required level of security assurance, you will receive a certificate of conformance and your product will be listed on the NIAP Product Compliant List (PCL).

Related Technology Terms

  • Certification and Accreditation
  • Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS)
  • Information Security
  • Protection Profile (PP)
  • Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL)

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