September 15, 2010, 8:39 PM — ORLANDO -- The National Security Agency wants to use commercially-built security products and the latest virtualization software. But the slow pace of getting products certified through NSA channels and the lightening fast pace of change in the IT industry is causing national-security heartburn.
The high-tech spy agency, which also guides Defense Department information security, has become an enthusiastic proponent of open standards-based technologies such as Trusted Network Connect (TNC) and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) put forward by the organization Trusted Computing Group (which announced it expects to propose an end-to-end security framework for cloud computing around year-end).
This week the secretive NSA held its first conference related to its views on trusted computing. The NSA Trusted Computing Conference and Exposition in Orlando drew about 500 attendees and 39 exhibiting companies.
Michael Lamont, NSA chief of the network solutions office, noted in his keynote that since May of this year the national-security strategy has been "COTS [commercial off the shelf] first, not GOTS [government]."
Lamont said the NSA wants to influence how commercial technologies are developed, and hopes "richer collaboration could further harden national-security systems" and give commercial systems some "government-like security."
Trusted computing "will be a key enabling technology or set of technologies," said Neal Ziring, technical director, information assurance directorate, NSA, in his conference keynote address.
Ziring said the NSA, under its High Assurance Platform (HAP) program, is turning to a "deliberate reliance on commercial products for protecting even national-security information," and said "my customers are demanding mobility." In the future, NSA expects "COTS will be used to protect even the most sensitive classified information."
Products developed to adhere to the specifications of the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) are a big part of the vision.
Certification processes stall adoption