Common Criteria and Supply Chain Security: Strengthening the Link

cyber security

In today’s interconnected world, supply chain security is of paramount importance. Since supply chains can vary greatly and many different organizations may be involved, there is no single set of established security guidelines or best practices. However, obtaining security certifications Common Criteria can significantly strengthen supply chain safety. This article will explore the vulnerabilities associated with supply chains and how Common Criteria help organizations address these challenges effectively.

Effective supply chain management is crucial, leading to cost reduction and enhancing production efficiency. Companies strive to improve their supply chains to lower costs and maintain competitiveness in the market.

Common Criteria (CC) guidelines can significantly strengthen the overall supply chain safety, as they are designed to assess the security features of information technology products and services. CC ensures that these products adhere to a predetermined security standard, particularly for government deployments.

Exploring Supply Chain Security

Supply chain security encompasses the policies and practices implemented to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of products or services throughout their lifecycle.

A compromised or vulnerable supply chain can lead to various negative consequences, including data breaches, unauthorized access, counterfeit products, and disruption of operations. Let’s examine the critical vulnerabilities in supply chains and how organizations can tackle them.

Lack of visibility

Complex and global supply chains often lack visibility, which makes it challenging to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities. Organizations can only effectively assess and manage threats with insight into lower tier suppliers and service providers.

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Third-party risks

Organizations rely on multiple third-party vendors and suppliers, which introduces additional risks if these entities have weak security practices. Assessing the security capabilities of these partners becomes crucial to ensure overall supply chain security.

Limited control

Organizations often have limited control over the security practices and vulnerabilities of their suppliers, subcontractors, and other entities in the supply chain. Collaboration and establishing security standards across the chain are vital to address this challenge.

Counterfeit or tampered products

Supply chains can be infiltrated with counterfeit or tampered products, compromising the security and reliability of the end products. Robust verification and tracking mechanisms are necessary to detect and prevent the circulation of counterfeit goods.

Malware injection

Attackers can inject malware into the software or firmware of products during the supply chain process, leading to potential data breaches or system compromise. Robust security controls and regular monitoring are crucial to mitigate this risk.

Data breaches

Supply chain vulnerabilities can expose sensitive data, leading to breaches and privacy violations. Organizations must implement strong cybersecurity measures such as encryption, access management, and continuous monitoring to protect against data breaches.

Extended attack surface

The interconnected nature of supply chains expands the attack surface, making it difficult to defend against threats propagating through various nodes and dependencies. Regular risk assessments, monitoring, and testing are necessary to identify and address weaknesses across the extended supply chain attack surface.

The Role of Common Criteria in Supply Chain Security

Obtaining the Common Criteria standard can play a significant role in strengthening supply chain safety. Let’s see what are the main objectives of CC in this particular context.

Common Criteria as a framework for evaluating security controls

One of the main objectives of CC is to establish a consistent and reliable, independent third-party evaluation process for assessing the security of IT systems. This helps users and organizations make informed decisions when selecting and procuring products or services. By adhering to Common Criteria, vendors can demonstrate their products’ security features and functions, enhancing customer trust and confidence.

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CC promotes the concept of Protection Profiles (PPs). A PP defines security requirements and objectives for a specific IT product or system type. PPs are a basis for evaluating products within a particular domain or industry, ensuring a consistent and standardized evaluation process for similar products.

By providing a standardized framework and evaluation process, the certification enables organizations to compare and select IT products and systems based on their certified security capabilities.

It helps ensure that products meet specific security requirements and adhere to industry best practices, ultimately contributing to the overall security posture of an organization or a more extensive system.

Enhancing supply chain security through Common Criteria evaluation

Assess security capabilities

Common Criteria enables organizations to assess different products’ security capabilities and strengths. By evaluating them against predefined security requirements, organizations can ensure that the selected CC certified products align with their specific security needs. This assessment helps make informed decisions and choose the ones that meet the desired security standards.

Mitigating vulnerabilities

The evaluation process within CC identifies vulnerabilities in products. By conducting a comprehensive assessment, organizations can uncover potential weaknesses or security gaps of a certain product. After implementing additional security measures, CC certification of the product becomes possible, after which the certified product can be selected and then become part of the supply chain.

Verify trustworthiness

Common Criteria certification provides a means to verify the trustworthiness and security of products and their suppliers. By selecting ones that have undergone CC evaluation, organizations gain confidence in the security features and functions of the devices and services they integrate into their supply chain. Additionally, the certification process evaluates not only the product itself but also the security practices and controls of the suppliers. This verification enhances supply chain resilience by ensuring that trusted and secure tools are utilized.

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Benefits of Common Criteria certification for the supply chain

The certification offers several benefits for supply chain security, from building trust to attracting new customers.

Enhanced assurance

Common Criteria certification signifies that products have been rigorously evaluated against recognized security standards. This provides enhanced assurance that the certified devices meet specific security requirements and adhere to industry best practices.

Trust and confidence

The certification process builds trust and confidence in the certified products. Organizations can rely on these knowing they have been thoroughly evaluated and meet predefined security standards.

Vendor and supplier evaluation

By selecting certified products of the chosen suppliers, organizations ensure that their assets have undergone comprehensive evaluation, reducing the potential for vulnerabilities or weak security controls.

Compliance requirements

Common Criteria certification is evidence of meeting regulatory or contractual obligations regarding supply chain security. By obtaining the certification, organizations can demonstrate their adherence to recognized standards and assure customers and partners that their products align with required security measures.

Competitive advantage

Obtaining CC certification can give vendors a competitive edge in the marketplace. It showcases their dedication to security and quality, which can attract customers who prioritize robust supply chain security. Certified products can differentiate vendors from competitors and potentially open new business opportunities.


Common Criteria certification is vital in strengthening supply chain security by choosing certified solutions in an increasingly interconnected and complex landscape.

Cybersecurity laboratories, such as CClab, offer consultation, evaluation, and pre-evaluation services to prepare manufacturers for an evaluation project to avoid delays and additional costs during the CC certification process.

By adopting these standards, manufacturers can improve their security posture and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. It helps organizations build resilient and secure supply chains by addressing vulnerabilities, mitigating risks, and enhancing trust by fostering confidence in certified products and facilitating informed decision-making when selecting suppliers and vendors.

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