The scenario is one that information security experts dread: widespread dissemination of commercial technology that is secretly wired to function in unintended ways or even spy on its users. From this vantage point, mobile phones, network routers, computer work stations and any other device hooked up to a network can provide a point of entry for an adversary.
For the U.S. Department of Defense this issue is even more of a concern now than ever before as DoD personnel rely on equipment bought in large quantities and built with components manufactured all over the world.
DoD’s growing dependence on the global supply chain makes device, software and firmware security an imperative. Backdoors, malicious software and other vulnerabilities unknown to the user could enable an adversary to use a device to accomplish a variety of harmful objectives, including the exfiltration of sensitive data and the sabotage of critical operations. Determining the security of every device DoD uses in a timely fashion is beyond current capabilities.