In a progressively digitized world, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and especially operational technologies (OTs) have presumed critical importance for governments, industry, and the general public globally. Yet trust in the reliability of these products and services is decreasing because of mounting concerns over inadvertent weaknesses in the supply chain and intentional backdoor involvements by state and corporate actors. Compounding the issue, these legitimate security worries are sometimes exaggerated for political and commercial motives—a counterproductive dynamic that fuels oppositions, fragments the marketplace, surges anxiety, stifles innovation and drives up prices.
Inarguably, some governments have been overruling in the ICT/OT supply chain or at least laying the groundwork for such interferences. They believe the pursuit to be defensible and legal, citing purposes related to intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations. Whether effective or not, the concern is that certain corporations are keenly or passively weakening the security of the stock chain and final products either at the order of governments or for questionable purposes. Another worry is that both state and corporate involvements could leverage or mask what are purely lax security ideals or flaws in products and services. And these further decreases trust in ICT/OT.
The world-wide tumult over the integrity of Huawei products and the U.S. administration’s campaign to coax other countries to ban them demonstrates the scale of the emerging challenge. Other examples include the assumed 2015 Russian manipulation of Kaspersky Lab antivirus software being utilized by a U.S. National Security Agency contractor and apprehensions that the agency was putting the security of U.S. products at jeopardy.