TNC Certified: Network Security You Can Count On

Date Published: January, 01, 2015

This week, Trusted Computing Group hits another big milestone: the release of our second certification program (, for products supporting the Trusted Network Connect specifications. Our first certification program was for Trusted Platform Modules.

The first products to receive TNC certification are the Juniper EX3200 and EX4200 Series Ethernet Switches and the TNC@FHH open source implementation. Congratulations to these folks for being the first ones out of the gate! More TNC certified products are coming soon.

TNC, as most of you know, is an open architecture and set of standards for network security. The specifications are available for download free of charge to any interested party. The TNC architecture helps IT organizations integrate disparate security systems, enforce corporate configuration requirements, and prevent and detect malware outbreaks, as well as the resulting security breaches and downtime.

Why bother with certifying products? Well, for a start, many RFPs or RFIs require that products under evaluation be certified – so certification becomes a checkbox item, one that can immediately disqualify a product. And this requirement is for good reason. Certification not only ensures that the TNC specifications are implemented as intended and are consistently implemented, but the seal of approval from such a program ensures that products are interoperable. And interoperability is a big deal in mixed-vendor enterprises, which most are, using similar products from different vendors.

In this case, TNC certification involves two aspects: first, products are tested to see if the relevant TNC specifications are properly implemented. A battery of tests are performed to ensure that the product being tested obeys all the normative language in the specification, all the MUSTs and MUST NOTs. This “compliance testing” ensures that all the mainstream requirements and edge cases are properly handled.

Second, products are tested for interoperability. TCG hosts twice-yearly “PlugFest” events at which a number of products are connected into a simulated enterprise environment. They’re run through a typical set of enterprise usage scenarios to ensure that they work together properly. If not, vendors get feedback. All TNC certified products must interoperate successfully with all other TNC implementations at the PlugFest, ensuring that customers will be able to unpack products and plug them together without difficulty.

For more information about the recent TNC PlugFest, see our post from last week for details. In addition to the specs tested as part of formal certification, other TNC specs were tested such as a bunch of specs around the Metadata Access Protocol. We anticipate the TNC PlugFests will continue to play an important role in formal certification and in helping vendors figure out how to make their products play nicely with each other.

We will keep you posted as other products become certified and as we add certification for additional TNC specifications.


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