Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Trusted CI Begins Engagement with Ohio Supercomputing Center

In July the Ohio Supercomputing Center (OSC) began an engagement with Trusted CI to address the challenge of security questionnaire response management for academic research service providers.

It is a common occurrence for potential users with strong security concerns to submit security questionnaires to research service providers. Such questionnaires must be completed by security staff at the research service provider to provide those users with information about the security of the resource so they can assess if it is appropriate for their concerns. These security questionnaires are blockers to use of the resource, so they become high priority interrupts for security staff who have limited time to manage them. Also, the questionnaires are typically targeted to commercial cloud service providers, not research service providers at higher education institutions, resulting in a mismatch between the questions and the academic research environment.

The goal of the engagement is to produce guidance for academic research service providers (such as NSF HPC centers and campus NSF CC*/CICI awardees) that addresses the challenge of security questionnaire response management. Our approach is to produce a profile of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT) (specifically, the HECVAT-Lite version) that is applicable to academic research service providers (rather than commercial cloud service providers), so that research service providers can maintain responses to a single security questionnaire that should be broadly accepted by their users.

The profile should be applicable to HPC/HTC providers (like OSC, NCSA, OSG/PATh), NSF research testbeds (like FABRIC), academic research software providers (like CILogon, Globus, and Open OnDemand), and campus Science DMZs.

The co-lead of the HECVAT Users Community Group, Charlie Escue, has agreed to join us during this engagement to help provide guidance and insight into the HECVAT. Trusted CI and OSU are grateful for his contributions to this exciting project.

The engagement is planned to conclude in December with the resulting work to be published for the benefit of our CI community.