August 27, 2022

The mother of all ‘zero-days’ — immortal flaws in semiconductor chips

By Peter Levin and Michael D. Lumpkin

The CHIPS Act of 2022 was signed into law on Aug. 9. It provides tens of billions of dollars in public support for revitalization of domestic semiconductor manufacturing, workforce training, and “leap ahead” wireless technology. Because we outsource most of our device fabrication — including the chips that go into the Navy’s submarines and ships, the Army’s jeeps and tanks, military drones and satellites — our industrial base has become weak and shallow. The first order of business for the CHIPS Act is to address a serious deficit in our domestic production capacity.

Chips are on the vanguard of our digital defenses. They need to be protected with thoughtful policy and common-sense requirements of how they are secured and what happens if they are breached.

The CHIPS Act begins to solve the problems of geography and geometry. Unless and until we systematically address on-chip cybersecurity, as the NSA recently highlighted, we will build devices that are vulnerable by design, deploy them to the field, and be helpless if an adversary takes control. Chips are on the vanguard of our digital defenses. They need to be protected with thoughtful policy and common-sense requirements of how they are secured and what happens if they are breached.

Read the full article from The Hill.

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