Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Integrate Security with the Configuration Management Program

Change Control

Change control is the management of security features and a level of assurance provided through the control of the changes made to the system’s hardware, software, and firmware configurations throughout the development and operational life cycle.


Change control involves identifying, controlling, and auditing all changes made to the system. It can address hardware and software changes, networking changes, or any other change affecting security. Change control can also be used to protect a trusted system while it is being designed and developed.

The primary security goal of change control is to ensure that changes to the system do not unintentionally diminish security. Another goal of change control is to ensure that system changes are reflected in current documentation to help mitigate the impact that a change may have on the security of other systems, in either the production or the planning stages.

The following are the primary functions of change control:

·         To ensure that the change is implemented in an orderly manner through formalized testing


·         To ensure that the user base is informed of the impending change


·         To analyze the effect of the change on the system after implementation


·         To reduce the negative impact that the change may have had on the computing services and resources


Configuration Management

Configuration management is the more formalized, higher level process of managing changes to a complicated system, and it is required for formal, trusted systems. Change control is contained in configuration management. The purpose of configuration management is to ensure that changes made to verification systems take place in an identifiable and controlled environment. Configuration managers take responsibility that additions, deletions, or changes made to the verification system do not jeopardize its ability to satisfy trusted requirements. Therefore, configuration management is vital to maintaining the endorsement of a verification system.


The four major aspects of configuration management are:

·         Configuration identification


·         Configuration control


·         Configuration status accounting


·         Configuration auditing


Configuration Identification

Configuration management entails decomposing the verification system into identifiable, understandable, manageable, trackable units known as Configuration Items (CIs). A CI is a uniquely identifiable subset of the system that represents the smallest portion to be subject to independent configuration control procedures. The decomposition process of a verification system into CIs is called configuration identification.


CIs can vary widely in size, type, and complexity. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules for decomposition, the granularity of CIs can have great practical importance. A favorable strategy is to designate relatively large CIs for elements that are not expected to change over the life of the system, and small CIs for elements likely to change more frequently.


Configuration Control

Configuration control is a means of ensuring that system changes are approved before being implemented, only the proposed and approved changes are implemented, and the implementation is complete and accurate. This involves strict procedures for proposing, monitoring, and approving system changes and their implementation. Configuration control entails central direction of the change process by personnel who coordinate analytical tasks, approve system changes, review the implementation of changes, and supervise other tasks such as documentation.


Configuration Accounting

Configuration accounting documents the status of configuration control activities and in general provides the information needed to manage a configuration effectively. It allows managers to trace system changes and establish the history of any developmental problems and associated fixes.


Configuration accounting also tracks the status of current changes as they move through the configuration control process. Configuration accounting establishes the granularity of recorded information and thus shapes the accuracy and usefulness of the audit function.

The accounting function must be able to locate all possible versions of a CI and all the incremental changes involved, thereby deriving the status of that CI at any specific time. The associated records must include commentary about the reason for each change and its major implications for the verification system.


Configuration Audit

Configuration audit is the quality assurance component of configuration management. It involves periodic checks to determine the consistency and completeness of accounting information and to verify that all configuration management policies are being followed. A vendor’s configuration management program must be able to sustain a complete configuration audit by an NCSC review team.


Configuration Management Plan

Strict adherence to a comprehensive configuration management plan is one of the most important requirements for successful configuration management. The configuration management plan is the vendor’s document tailored to the company’s practices and personnel. The plan accurately describes what the vendor is doing to the system at each moment and what evidence is being recorded.


Configuration Control Board (CCB)

All analytical and design tasks are conducted under the direction of the vendor’s corporate entity called the Configuration Control Board (CCB). The CCB is headed by a chairperson, who is responsible for ensuring that changes made do not jeopardize the soundness of the verification system and ensures that the changes made are approved, tested, documented, and implemented correctly.


The members of the CCB should interact periodically, either through formal meetings or other available means, to discuss configuration management topics such as proposed changes, configuration status accounting reports, and other topics that may be of interest to the different areas of the system development. These interactions should be held to keep the entire system team updated on all advancements or alterations in the verification system.

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