Dealing with Cybersecurity Threats Posed by Globalized Information Technology Suppliers

Policy Brief
13-11
May 2013

Theodore H. Moran cites recent instances of the US government intervening to block foreign producers of information technology (IT) from selling goods and services to US firms and argues that such actions based on the nationality of the foreign firm is ineffective, discriminatory, and unfair. The dangers and risks of compromise of US national security are real. But in a world where supply chains of IT companies of every nationality are thoroughly globalized, a better way to protect national security would be to establish a multilateral nondiscriminatory system to ensure the integrity of equipment, software, patches, and upgrades from all sources. Much remains to be done to establish an appropriate regime to protect national security and also the rights of investors and companies doing business with foreign firms. The goal should be to strike a balance between protecting national security without discouraging foreigners from investing in and doing business with US firms.