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Global IT Supply-Chain Insecurity

By Kevin Coleman

Defense Tech Chief Cyber Warfare Correspondent

An interesting conversation is now taking place at the highest levels of government and corporate technology companies. That conversation deals with the security of the corporate technology company’s supply-chain.

The Indian telecom services industry has experienced rapid growth over the past 15 years. Now, it is on the edge of another growth spurt. India needs to invest significantly in telecom equipment by 2015 to service its billion + population. India would be hard pressed to purchase this much equipment domestically. They have only two ways to meet this demand – first they can award contracts to foreign manufacturers. But that approach has what one source called “Unacceptable Risks.” The second is to encourage domestic manufacturing to increase their capacity and scale up quickly to meet the demands brought about by the infrastructure expansion.

India’s intelligence and military leaders have voiced their concerns about using foreign suppliers to fulfill the country’s telecommunication equipment needs. Some intelligence sources have stated that “foreign telecommunication equipment suppliers raise the cyber security risks substantially.” This is a growing concern. Cyber warfare has become a substantial threat and India’s military leaders and some security experts say cyber warfare could be every bit as lethal as weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

India’s cyber security advisors have reportedly agreed that current hardware and software testing capabilities for validating the imported telecommunication equipment fall far short of what is needed to mitigate the risk of hardware and software compromise and other espionage activities. So, India is left to entice the telecommunication industry to respond to the capacity constraints and produce the telecommunication equipment necessary to meet India’s growing demand.

Was this brought about by the recent report by the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto of a massive cyber espionage effort that was traced back to China and had pilfered classified and restricted documents from the highest levels of the Indian Defense Ministry?

Officials and military leaders in the U.S. have expressed their concerns over the same issue. We want to hear from you. Do you think national security is at risk due to foreign supply of critical components?

1. Yes 2. No 3. Unsure

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