The UK IT Security Evaluation and Certification Scheme (UK ITSEC) is ready to produce evaluations of security products based on new common criteria. The criteria for testing have been agreed between the UK, US, Netherlands, France, Germany and Canada. This is the first time vendors have had their products tested under standards applying equally to each of the member states. The UK ITSEC evaluation process assesses whether a manufacturer's claims about a product's security are accurate. The results are used by businesses, governments and developers to determine whether the security features of software applications such as firewalls, databases and operating systems meet their requirements. UK ITSEC and its counterparts in France, Germany and the Netherlands have been using the IT Security Evaluation Criteria (ITSEC) since 1991, a standard published by the European Union. The US and Canada have had their own standards since 1981, which has caused problems for companies or developers evaluating software from both sides of the Atlantic. "Developers have often had to sponsor separate testing programmes to sell their products in different markets. The Common Criteria address this difficulty," explained Kevin Hayes, marketing manager for UK ITSEC. A joint project was set up in 1993 to develop a mutually compatible set of criteria, and Version 1.0 of the Common Criteria was brought out in 1996 to evaluate the standard.
In December last year the final draft of Version 2.0 was published and will be submitted to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) in April this year. An interim recognition agreement was signed by the UK, US and Canada in October last year to cover the parts of the Criteria that deal with lower levels of security assurance, and further agreements involving all the partner countries will be signed over the next 12 months as higher assurance levels are agreed and the documentation is translated.
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