Common Criteria (CC) is an international standard for assessing the cybersecurity of eligible information technology products. It is intended to offer a high degree of assurance that an IT product or system satisfies a certain set of security guidelines, and it is appropriate for use in sensitive areas where security is a top priority. This can benefit both developers and sponsors of eligible IT products in a variety of ways, including increasing their competitiveness and credibility.
In this article, we will explore the specific benefits that Common Criteria certification can provide, and how it can help to stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive and security-conscious marketplace.
The Definition of Common Criteria
The Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation, commonly referred to as Common Criteria or CC, is a widely recognized framework of cybersecurity certification standards. Common Criteria is also known as ISO 15408 and provides a standardized methodology for defining, implementing, and evaluating the security features of information technology products or systems. The framework ensures that the evaluation is conducted by an independent and licensed cybersecurity laboratory in a rigorous, repeatable, and standardized manner, suitable for the intended environment.
Common Criteria certifications are globally recognized by all 31 member countries of the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA).
As of the writing of this article, a total of 1,669 IT products have successfully passed the Common Criteria evaluation process and been certified with or without a chosen Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL).
What kind of IT products can be the subject of Common Criteria evaluation?
The CC standard is designed to evaluate the security features and capabilities of a wide range of IT products, including hardware, software, and firmware. It can be applied in many different industries. Moreover, there are governmental organizations that specifically require CC certification during their procurement tenders.
Some examples of IT products that can be evaluated under the Common Criteria standard include:
- Operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and Unix
- Network devices, such as routers, switches, and firewalls
- Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets
- Database management systems
- Security products, such as antivirus SW, intrusion detection systems, and encryption products
- Products for digital signature (QSCD)
- Integrated circuits (ICs), Smart cards and other security tokens
- Electronic payment systems
- Biometric authentication systems
Overall, the Common Criteria methodology is a powerful tool that can be used to evaluate the security of a wide range of IT products, ensuring that they meet the required security standards and are suitable for use in security-critical environments.
The Main Benefits of Common Criteria
The Common Criteria certification provides several advantages for the manufacturers and sponsors of a given IT product. Here are some of the key benefits of CC certification:
1. Improved security at a lower cost
The CC evaluation process provides a rigorous and systematic approach to evaluating the cybersecurity features and capabilities of IT products, which can help to identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities before releasing them to the market. In this way, significant cost savings can be achieved, compared to expensive post-market security patch management and other security-enhancing processes.
2. Enhanced credibility
IT products with Common Criteria certification suggests trustworthiness for a purchaser or an end user, and also improves the credibility of the given manufacturer on the market.
3. Increased competitiveness
CC evaluation and certification process is an internationally recognized method for developers and sponsors to demonstrate that their IT products have been independently evaluated and certified as meeting a high standard for security. This can help them to stand out from their competitors and win new tenders.
Common Criteria certification can also improve interoperability between IT products by providing a common security framework that all certified products must meet. This can help organizations to more easily integrate certified products into their existing IT systems, which can result in reduced costs. This benefit provided to the end user can also be a competitive advantage for the manufacturer in the market.
4. Advantage or requirement for public tenders
Around the world, public tenders often require or give preference to products that have been certified under the Common Criteria standard. This means that products that have been certified are more likely to be selected for use in the:
- Government agencies
- Military operations
- Financial institutions
- Healthcare organizations
- Other organizations – such as those in the energy, telecommunications, and critical infrastructure sectors
5. Increased collaboration
Common Criteria certification may help manufacturers, consumers, and partners collaborate more effectively by offering a standardized way of addressing security features and capabilities. This can aid manufacturers in better understanding their customers’ wants and expectations, allowing them to produce more secure and effective IT solutions.
As technology continues to advance, cybersecurity becomes increasingly important and manufacturers in the IT sector need to handle it as a top priority. Obtaining Common Criteria certification helps them achieve this goal and provides numerous other advantages that ultimately benefit the end users as well.