black list file (Tashatuvango/Shutterstock.com)

Pentagon may share software black list

To better secure the defense industrial base, the Pentagon wants to publish a list of software companies it doesn't trust.

The Defense Department is working with Congress to "get authorities to be able to share our restricted vendors list, DOD Acquisition and Sustainment Undersecretary Ellen Lord told reporters during a May 10 briefing at the Pentagon.

"We have some constraints on what we can share right now with the defense industrial base," she said. "But education is important."

Lord emphasized that prime contractors are ultimately responsible for their subcontractors and their whole supply chain. To help with security, DOD is pushing for standard contracting language for cybersecurity requirements so vendors can ensure their own systems and those of their subcontractors are up to par.

The 2019 Defense spending bill banned services and equipment from five companies: Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Dahua Technology Co., as well as any of their subsidiaries or affiliates.

"What we know is that if we do not have software from trusted sources, we cannot ensure our cybersecurity," she said. "There are certain companies that often are hidden inside of other shell companies."

In addition to supply chain concerns, Lord said she would like there to be more rapid-hiring authorities for cybersecurity and other jobs in the 2020 spending bill.

"We have a lot of work that needs to get done in a fairly quick fashion and that’s important to us to be able to move quickly," she said. "Talent is how we get things done, and I don’t think we always acknowledge that that’s a key element along with the materiel we buy."

A longer version of this article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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