As U.S. lawmakers question cybersecurity risks associated with Chinese telecom maker ZTE, Virginia Tech’s wireless security expert Charles Clancy says that national security threats surrounding supply chains for telecommunications are critical.

“The cyber threat facing the United States is real and tangible, and supply chain operations are among the most pernicious and difficult to detect,” said Clancy this week in Washington D.C. where he offered expert testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

National Security Risks

“While several Chinese companies have clearly taken shortcuts, from theft of intellectual property to revenue from product sales to embargoed countries, China is undeniably part of the global telecommunications marketplace and supply chain,” Clancy explained during his testimony on Capitol Hill.

“Telecommunications companies need to consider the criticality of each component in their network, and the entire supply chain for each product they acquire and provision in their network.”

“It is financially impossible to eliminate all risk, but supply chain risk needs to be assessed and quantified before it can be effectively managed,” said Clancy. “There should be recurring assessments performed collaboratively between government and industry that examine each layer of the supply chain, from research and development through operations.” 

“In areas where risk cannot be effectively managed unilaterally by industry, the U.S. government should take actions to help foster the competitiveness of domestic industry to fill the gap, but with careful consideration given to the impacts on the global marketplace.”

About Clancy

As director of Virginia Tech’s Hume Center, Clancy leads a team of over 75 faculty and staff who engage 400 students annually in research and experiential learning focused in national security and technology. He is also a leading contributor in developing and expanding Virginia Tech's role in cybersecurity research and education, to include development of the CyberX initiative. More here.

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