Outsourcing IT to other countries adds to cyber risks, report says

New white paper warns of increasing national security risks from cyber threats

A new report charged that the government's outsourcing significant portions of the nation’s IT has created escalating cybersecurity risks.

The report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance’s (INSA) Cyber Council warned that federal authorities have outsourced a substantial share of IT to countries in which hackers have an easier time of gaining unauthorized access into IT systems and supply chains.

"The U.S. government has significantly outsourced significant portions of the design, implementation and maintenance of IT to other countries, where our potential adversaries can easily insert themselves into our logistical chains," states the white paper released Sept. 12.

The outsourcing is for economic reasons, but it fails to take into account the increased security risks presented to IT systems at home, the report states.


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“The present situation is as dangerous as if the United States decided to outsource the design of bridges, electrical grids, and other physical infrastructure to the Soviet Union during the Cold War,” INSA states. No specific examples of outsourcing are provided.

The paper lays out a comprehensive view of the rising level of risks to IT infrastructures in the U.S. due to cyberattacks originating all over the world.

It calls for an organized effort to develop defensive cyber activities and to fully leverage cyber intelligence on a national and global scale.

In cyberspace, it takes little education or money to start cyberattacks, while public and private organizations incur a substantial cost to defend against such attacks, the report states.

“While quantifiable assessments of the net impact of cyberattacks are difficult to discern, the cost is great enough to warrant the need for a cybersecurity apparatus supported by sophisticated cyber intelligence,” the report concluded.

The report recommended that officials:

  • Systematically define and establish effective cyber intelligence approaches, professions, skill sets, training, education and technologies.
  • Enable cyber intelligence policies and pilot efforts across industry, academia/non-profits, and government.
  • Establish public-private cyber outreach forums.
  • Build a meaningful partnership among all relevant agencies and the private sector to ensure the seamless sharing of information.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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