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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, due at the end of 2006, is expected to become the first “trusted” Linux, a security designation that could accelerate partners’ Linux business with the government.
Last week, Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat said it is working with IBM and Trusted Computer Solutions, Herndon, Va., to make its enterprise Linux distribution compliant with the Common Criteria of the Evaluation Assurance Level 4 (EAL4), the government’s highest security rating. To achieve trusted operating-system status, technology must support three additional levels: the labeled security protection profile (LSPP), the controlled access protection profile (CAPP) and role-based access control security capabilities.
Sun Microsystems, Novell and Microsoft have earned the EAL4 rating, but only Sun Solaris 9 has full trusted OS status. Sun is expected to release Solaris 10 Trusted Extensions during the first half of 2006, a Sun spokeswoman said.
Red Hat rival Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 4 has an EAL4+ rating, which signifies it supports CAPP requirements. Novell may add support for LSPP in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, due next spring, but has not decided whether to pursue the full trusted OS designation, a company spokesman said.
One open-source consultant was skeptical of the Red Hat effort, saying the requirements to become a trusted OS can’t be met by an out-of-the-box solution. “Technically, a trusted OS is one that has achieved EAL compliance, although most security agencies consider EAL4 a minimum,” said Chris Maresca, senior partner at Olliance Group, Palo Alto, Calif.
What gives Red Hat a technical advantage over Novell is its support for SELinux, a Security-Enhanced Linux derivative developed by the National Security Agency, said Ed Hammersla, COO of Trusted Computer, whose TCS Trusted Linux will be merged with Red Hat Enterprise Linux in late 2006.