Evaluated product acquisition
An evaluated product provides a level of assurance in its security functionality that an unevaluated product does not. To assist in providing this assurance, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) performs product evaluations through the following programs:
- ASD Cryptographic Evaluation (ACE) program, for products used to protect classified data.
- High Assurance Evaluation program, for products used to protect highly classified data.
The Australian Certification Authority within the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) also certifies product evaluations conducted by licensed commercial facilities, in accordance with the Common Criteria, as part of the Australian Information Security Evaluation Program (AISEP).
For organisations seeking to procure evaluated products, the Common Criteria’s Certified Products List contains a list of products that have been certified in accordance with the Common Criteria. Alternatively, the ACSC can be contacted for information on products that are either in-evaluation or have completed evaluation via the ACE program or the High Assurance Evaluation program.
A Protection Profile (PP) is a technology-specific document that defines the security functions that must be included in a Common Criteria certified product to mitigate specific cyber threats. PPs can be published by a recognised Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) scheme or by the CCRA body itself. PPs published by the CCRA body are referred to as collaborative PPs.
The ACSC recognises all PPs listed on the Common Criteria website in addition to those listed on the ACSC’s website. Where a PP does not exist, an evaluation based on an Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) may be accepted. Such evaluations are capped at EAL2+ as this represents the best balance between completion time and meaningful security assurance gains.
Organisations choosing to use Common Criteria certified products can determine their suitability by reviewing their evaluation documentation. This includes the security target and certification report.
Products that are undergoing a Common Criteria evaluation will not have published evaluation documentation. However, documentation can be obtained from the ACSC if a product is being evaluated through the AISEP. For a product that is in evaluation through a foreign scheme, the product’s vendor can be contacted directly for further information.
Evaluated product selection
A Common Criteria evaluation is traditionally conducted at a specified EAL; however, evaluations against a PP exist outside of this scale. Notably, while products evaluated against a PP will fulfil the Common Criteria EAL requirements, the EAL number will not be published.
Security Control: 0280; Revision: 7; Updated: Sep-19; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
If procuring an evaluated product, a product that has completed a PP-based evaluation is selected in preference to one that has completed an EAL-based evaluation.
Delivery of evaluated products
It is important that organisations ensure that products they purchase are the actual products that are delivered. In the case of evaluated products, if the product delivered differs from an evaluated version then the assurance gained from the evaluation may not necessarily apply.
Packaging and delivery practices can vary greatly from product to product. For most evaluated products, standard commercial packaging and delivery practices are likely to be sufficient. However, in some cases more secure packaging and delivery practices, including tamper-evident seals and secure transportation, may be required. In the case of the digital delivery of evaluated products, vendor-supplied checksums can often be used to ensure the integrity of software that was delivered.
Security Control: 0285; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Evaluated products are delivered in a manner consistent with any delivery procedures defined in associated evaluation documentation.
Security Control: 0286; Revision: 5; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
When procuring high assurance ICT equipment, the ACSC is contacted for any equipment-specific delivery procedures.
Further information on the ACE program is available from the ACSC.
Further information on the High Assurance Evaluation program is available from the ACSC.
Further information on the AISEP is available from the ACSC.
Further information on Common Criteria evaluated products is available on the Common Criteria’s Certified Products List.
Evaluated product usage
An evaluated product is considered to be operating in an evaluated configuration if:
- functionality that it uses was in the scope of the evaluation and it is implemented in the specified manner
- only product updates that have been assessed through a formal assurance continuity process have been applied
- the environment complies with assumptions or organisational security policies stated in the evaluation documentation.
An evaluated product is considered to be operating in an unevaluated configuration when it does not meet the requirements of the evaluated configuration and guidance provided in its certification report.
Patching evaluated products
In the majority of cases, the latest patched version of an evaluated product will be more secure than an older unpatched version. While the application of patches will not normally place an evaluated product into an unevaluated configuration, some vendors may include new functionality, which has not been evaluated, with their patches. In such cases, organisations should use their judgement to determine whether this deviation from the evaluated configuration constitutes additional security risk or not.
Installation and configuration of evaluated products
Product evaluation provides assurance that a product’s security functionality will work as expected when operating in a clearly defined configuration. The scope of the evaluation specifies the security functionality that can be used and how a product is to be configured and operated. Using an evaluated product in an unevaluated configuration could result in the introduction of security vulnerabilities that were not considered as part of the product’s evaluation.
Security Control: 0289; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Evaluated products are installed, configured, administered and operated in accordance with vendor guidance and evaluation documentation.
Security Control: 0290; Revision: 5; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
High assurance ICT equipment is installed, configured, administered and operated in accordance with guidance produced by the ACSC.
Use of high assurance ICT equipment in unevaluated configurations
Given the value of the data being protected by high assurance ICT equipment, it should always be operated in an evaluated configuration.
Security Control: 0292; Revision: 5; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
High assurance ICT equipment is only operated in an evaluated configuration.
Further information on the use of ICT equipment can be found in the Guidelines for ICT Equipment.
Further information on patching can be found in the system patching section of the Guidelines for System Management.
Further information on the installation, configuration, administration and operation of Common Criteria products is available from vendors and in evaluation documentation.
For information on the installation, configuration, administration and operation of high assurance ICT equipment is available from the ACSC.