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JUL 08, 2021 | US

NIST Defines ‘Critical Software,’ Implications to Follow

Government Technology, July 8, 2021

By Jule Pattison-Gordon

The White House likely expects forthcoming EO-critical security standards to ripple out to the wider software landscape, beyond just government procurements, according to Henry Young, who previously worked at NIST and now is director of policy at the Software Alliance (BSA), a US-headquartered international software industry advocacy group. The idea is that vendors working for the federal government will simply follow these rules for all their products, making safer products more easily available to everyone.

Should security rules be too rigid, however, vendors might instead create compliant products for the federal government and less secure alternative versions to sell to the general public, Young told GT. He did not see significant risks of this happening, he said.

Aaron Cooper, BSA vice president of Global Policy, told GT that the security requirements NIST settles on will need to be flexible enough to ensure the guidance stays relevant and useful for the long term. Overly prescriptive rules may make sense for the present day but won’t keep up as technology and risks evolve.

For example, a hypothetical policy requiring software verify users via four-digit PINs would be wise 20 years ago but become a liability if it were still in place today, because it would prevent use of biometric or multifactor authentication, Cooper said.

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Original Posting: https://www.govtech.com/security/nist-defines-critical-software-implications-to-follow

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