UK Government to boost Cyber Resilience of Supply Chains
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is calling for views on a number of measures to enhance the security of digital supply chains and third party IT services, used by firms for things such as data processing and infrastructure management.
The UK government is seeking feedback from industry voices on its proposed measures following the SolarWinds and Codecov attacks.
The SolarWinds cyber-attack was discovered in December but had been in operation for months prior. Hackers used US company SolarWinds’ Orion platform to target US government departments, along with about 100 private companies, and small numbers of UK organisations. Nearly 18,000 customers had installed the malicious software.
Hundreds of clients were compromised in the Codecov supply chain attack, and investigators said that the attackers not only exploited the company but also used it as a launchpad for attacks against numerous customer networks.
DCMS research shows only 12% of organisations review the cybersecurity risks coming from their immediate suppliers and only one in twenty firms (5%) address the vulnerabilities in their wider supply chain.
As digital transformation accelerates and organisations increasingly move their operations online, digital supply chains and third-party IT service operators are becoming vital to companies’ everyday operations and are hugely important for business continuity and resilience.
The government has helped organisations improve their cyber risk management during the pandemic, including through £500,000 of funding to enable critical suppliers in healthcare to boost their preparedness and resilience through the Cyber Essentials scheme. Although now the government is looking at what more it can do to support UK firms.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “There is a long history of outsourcing of critical services. We have seen attacks such as ‘CloudHopper’ where organisations were compromised through their managed service provider. It’s essential that organisations take steps to secure their mission critical supply chains – and remember they cannot outsource risk.
“We’re seeking views from firms that both procure and provide digital services, as a first step in considering whether we need updated guidance or strengthened rules.”
Guidance on supply chain risk management
The government wants views on the existing guidance for supply chain cyber risk management and is also testing the suitability of a proposed security framework for firms which manage organisations’ IT infrastructure, known as ‘Managed Service Providers’.
According to the government the proposals could require Managed Service Providers to meet the current Cyber Assessment Framework - a set of 14 cybersecurity principles designed for organisations that play a vital role in the day-to-day life of the UK.
The framework sets out measures organisations should take, such as:
- Having policies to protect devices and prevent unauthorised access
- Ensuring data is protected at rest and in transit
- Keeping secure and accessible backups of data
- Training staff and pursuing a positive cybersecurity culture
The Call for Views on Supply Chain Cyber Security Call will be open from 17 May to 11 July 2021.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.