The Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a congressionally-chartered group charged with delivering recommendations to improve U.S. cybersecurity, today issued its latest in a series of white papers on the subject – this time urging the U.S. to take steps to protect critical information and technology (ICT) supply chains from Chinese and other adversarial nations.

“Dependency on China and other adversary countries for some of our most critical supply chains threatens to undermine the trustworthiness of critical technologies and components that constitute and connect to cyberspace,” the commission said in the white paper.

“This dependency also risks impairing the availability of these same critical technologies and components and compromises American and partner competitiveness in global markets in the face of Chinese economic aggression,” it said.

The commission offered five recommendations to address the problem. Two of those – identifying key technologies that need protection, and protecting supply chains through better threat sharing and product testing – appear to be steps that could be readily undertaken.

The remaining recommendations involve wider-ranging economic action that would likely be more complicated to achieve:

  • Ensuring “minimum viable manufacturing capacity” for ICT good and services “through both strategic investment and the creation of economic clusters”;
  • Stimulating a domestic market for ICT goods and services “through targeted infrastructure investment and ensuring the ability of firms to offer products in the United States similar to those offered in foreign markets”; and
  • “Ensuring global competitiveness of trusted supply chains, including American and partner companies, in the face of Chinese anti-competitive behavior in global markets.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., a commission member, commented, “The pandemic showed us the dangers of relying on foreign adversaries for critical technologies and products. We need to learn the right lessons and ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again.” He continued, “This paper provides the blueprint for a whole-of-nation approach to both shore up vulnerabilities within our information and communications technology supply chains and ensure these networks remain stable and secure. As the Commission makes clear, there’s no time to waste in doing so.”

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., also a member of the commission, said, “Improving our cybersecurity is a national security imperative and understanding vulnerabilities in the supply chain is growing in importance. Our adversaries target complex information technology supply chains in pursuit of sensitive information and to hold vital systems at risk. We need a strategic approach to address rapidly growing supply chain risks, and this white paper provides a framework for immediate Federal action.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.