New DSB task force to shore up resiliency of military electronic systems

By Briana Reilly / November 28, 2022 at 1:26 PM

A newly established Defense Science Board panel is focused on shoring up the resiliency of the Defense Department's electronic systems, including through establishing whether the CHIPS and Science Act could be leveraged to develop commercial secure processors.

Called the Secure Electronic Processing Task Force, the body was recently stood up by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu to focus on the increasingly available commercial secure processor market and understand the potential for “these dual-use security solutions,” a recently released memo states.

Members of the panel will be tasked with determining those commercial and military applications, gauging the susceptibility of those processors’ vulnerabilities, exploring alternatives and examining “suitability for technology protection,” per the Nov. 9 memo, which was publicly released last week.

In addition, the task force will review if the text of the recently enacted plan to boost funding for domestic semiconductor production and funnel some $2 billion toward military microelectronics “opens any opportunities” for commercial secure processor development.

Touted by DOD leaders as a way to “supercharge” chips research, development and production, the law includes tens of billions of dollars to encourage facility and equipment investments and incentives for semiconductor manufacturing such as a four-year, 25% tax credit.

“The security, availability, and reliability of electronic equipment, information technology systems, and embedded systems are at risk in an operational environment where abundant threats exist that endanger system capability,” Shyu wrote. “Department of Defense (DOD) technological capabilities must be protected from threats that exploit hardware and software vulnerabilities that are inherent in system design.”

The memo stipulates the task force’s work will conclude within one year of its start, with members’ findings to be presented to the full DSB and then to Shyu.