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Sunday, December 3rd, 2023

START, National Service Foundation hold workshop on critical system supply chains

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A workshop co-hosted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and sponsored by the National Service Foundation (NSF) gathered partners and panelists this month to discuss critical systems and the potential for compromising supply chains.

For the workshop, systems associated with human safety, such as transportation and medical services, or the delivery of critical services like infrastructure, global economic stability, and important humanitarian and military operations. At this workshop, participants focused on the issues that could arise if items like hardware, material, software, data, algorithms, and more were to be breached and misused and, what’s more, how such issues could be predicted and addressed ahead of time.

Supply chains for these systems tend to be ideal targets, as the systems have long manufacturing and support life, in line with their cost and necessity. A compromise could, in turn, lead to modification of the system’s original design for malicious purposes. This can take many forms.

“We put critical systems in the title of this workshop because they’re the sort of systems we’re interested in. We’re not interested in cell phones,” said Peter Sandborn, University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Mechanical Engineering professor and project investigator, as well as a panelist. “We’re interested in the systems that are in airplanes, in military systems, and infrastructure. These systems that are really expensive to procure and have to last a really long time.”

The gathering operated under the title Safeguarding Critical System Supply Chains Against Compromise and was hosted at START headquarters. Major participants in the sessions included the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE), the Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS), the School of Public Policy and the Maryland Center of Excellence for Sustainment Sciences (MChESS), among other academics, industry experts and stakeholders.

Panelists included START Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) Director Steve Sin, as well as representatives of Lockheed Martin, the MITRE Corporation, National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST) and others.

It was the last of four workshops supported by an NSF planning grant meant to help disrupt operations of illicit counterfeit part supply networks.