recommended reading

Pentagon directive targets fake parts, vulnerabilities in arms systems

Missiles are prepped for a test in Alaska in 2005.

Missiles are prepped for a test in Alaska in 2005. // Mark Farmer/AP

A new Pentagon directive is calling for new safeguards against fake parts and software vulnerabilities in arms and information systems. The mandate, which took effect Nov. 5, is likely to bring new momentum to funding of technology to protect military supply chains.

Signed by Teresa Takai, defense chief information officer, and Frank Kendall, under secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, the directive asks for guidance, mechanisms and systems to control the security and configuration of software and hardware. It asks defense to push for new technology for “creating and identifying non-cryptologic software and hardware that is free from exploitable vulnerabilities and malicious intent.”

It calls for heads of defense units to come up with best practices to reduce occurrence of fake or compromised products. The order also asks for a way to give all critical components in systems an item unique identification so fakes can be better weeded out, and requires the implementation of test and evaluation protocols.

The number of so called “high-risk suppliers” to the U.S. government -- such as those reported to have sold suspect counterfeit products to military and commercial electronics channels -- rose 63 percent from 5,849 companies in 2002 to 9,539 in 2011, according to IHS iSuppli market research.

Multiple pushes have been brewing across Defense to address the security of weapons supply chains.

The Pentagon venture wing is holding briefings in anticipation of a funding drive called the Vetting Commodity IT Software and Firmware program. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency initiative aims to develop technology that can scan whether mobile phones, desktops and other devices are free of backdoors and other hidden malicious functionality. DARPA has noted the limitations of the technology available to execute this. “The goal of making this determination for every new device in a timely fashion at scale across all of DoD is beyond presently deployed techniques,” the agency stated in contracting documents.

Separately, the Defense Logistics Agency is mandating that suppliers of electronic microcircuits mark their items with deoxyribonucleic acid markings, according to an August directive. The suppliers would have to imprint their devices with SigNature DNA marking, which is developed by a company called Applied DNA Sciences. The system would allow electrical components in a device to be traced back to its supplier. The requirement applies to DLA procurements, the agency said.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.