The Big Picture: Cybersecurity and Hardware Security

Security in the modern age. Why vulnerabilities to software and hardware attacks will ruin your business and how to take steps to prevent and reduce them.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles…”—Sun Tzu

Most of you know me from my software days running Cimnet Systems and providing the industry-leading ERP and engineering solution to the industry. Since selling Cimnet, I have ventured into several other types of businesses, including engineering services (Entelechy), global sourcing (Linkage), biotech (Navipoint Health), and yet again into software (Exinous). I thought I was done with software but having worked with some amazing young people, I’ve decided to take the plunge yet again. Except this time, we’re all about cloud computing, mobile platforms, AI, machine learning and all the fun new technologies at our disposal. At the heart of our IT offering is combating today’s lurking threat of cybersecurity. 

Wherever I go, I am pleasantly reminded of the role our industry plays into everyday lives. From the sight of people texting and calling loved ones on their phones, children laughing and playing with their high-tech toys, to doctors and nurses using advanced med tech to keep someone alive. I get a feeling of contentment and pleasure knowing our industry plays a role in fulfilling these moments. 

Just the same, as much as these moments are vicarious, they are also vulnerable. They remind me of how important the safety and security of our work is. 

In 2018 (really 2014), our industry found this out the hard way. The Big Hack1 was and still is the largest physical supply chain compromise of the modern age. The dirty secret being that, long ago, we compromised security for satiation. In addition to hardware attacks, hackers employing software attacks have compromised government organizations and Fortune 500 companies. Just look to SolarWinds and more recently Kaseya2 to see the fruits of their labor. 

The PCB industry is no different. Suppliers, brokers, manufacturers, designers, and customers are all benefited by their connection to and interaction with software and hardware. We can’t live without them. We use them to create our advanced designs, store and transmit sensitive CRM data, process and record financial information, and store intellectual property. Our data is precious; it empowers us and streamlines systems. Yet, it also makes us vulnerable. 

Our tech, which influences every aspect of modern-day life, must be secure, and so must the systems and organizations that create them. With the advent of IoT and the continued centralization of big data, cloud computing, and other integrated systems, the risk/reward for large scale software and hardware attacks ever increases. 

When Linkage was impacted by a hack into our email system, that was a wakeup call to use everything in our arsenal to keep these despicable looters at bay. To ease our conscience, we stepped up our security game by honestly looking at ourselves and our enemy. We sat down and discovered our weak points and our strongpoints, and then combined them to seek improvements. Through Exinous, our software company, we created our own ERP software, iLink, and moved to an AWS IAM/KMS/WAF platform, modifying our security protocols and incident response plans to form and fit today’s ever changing security landscape. 

Potentially facing DDoS attacks, phishing scams, ransomware and trojan hacks, we have implemented a multilayer security system that incorporates threat analysis, data encryption, incident management, authorization and authentication, and automated detection. We have also purchased CISA Insurance, given that, in the worst-case scenario, financially our business can weather the storm. 

Downline at the factory, we randomly inspect hardware, check in with factory managers and preform multiple quality control tests. We have strong relationships with the production line team and quality assurance managers. This oft overlooked aspect of security is the other side of the coin to mitigating a major security breach. 

Knowing that, as a global sourcing supplier of PCBs, I have a responsibility in our security that is both humbling and inspiring. I hope this insight inspires you to look at your own organizations, find your weak points, and become safer and more secure to help avert and prevent the otherwise inevitable. 

References

1. “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 4, 2018.

2. “Hackers conduct one of the largest supply chain cyberattacks to date,” engadget.com, July 3, 2021.

Back

2021

The Big Picture: Cybersecurity and Hardware Security

11-10-2021

Wherever I go, I am pleasantly reminded of the role our industry plays into everyday lives. From the sight of people texting and calling loved ones on their phones, to children laughing and playing with their high-tech toys, to doctors and nurses using advanced med tech to keep someone alive. I get a feeling of contentment and pleasure knowing our industry plays a role in fulfilling these moments. As much as these moments are vicarious, they are also vulnerable. They remind me of how important the safety and security of our work is.

View Story

The Big Picture: Geopolitics and the PCB Supply Chain

08-26-2021

As the PCB industry made its way to China starting in the mid-1990s, I followed the herd. It was a good move as I ended up with some of the largest PCB companies in China as customers and got to know so many more people in Asia. The shift to Asia, and specifically China made a lot of sense at the time.

View Story
Back

2020

The Big Picture: Globalization—Imagine a United States That Isn't United

10-12-2020

What if the U.S. was fragmented with 50 state fiefdoms, each with their own rules and barriers blocking the free flow of goods and services across state lines? We cannot even imagine such a scenario, yet that is exactly what’s happening—fortunately not across state lines, but across global borders. Mehul Davé advocates for starting the hard work to get globalization back on track.

View Story

The Big Picture: COVID-19 Helps Kill Globalization

07-13-2020

Globalization was in trouble even before the pandemic. The decades-long open system of trade that dominated the world economy has been damaged by the financial crisis and—more recently—the Sino-American trade war. Mehul Davé explains how COVID-19 has added a third-body blow to globalization.

View Story

The Big Picture: Globalization—The Onset of COVID-19

04-20-2020

In Mehul Davé's last column, he spoke to the challenges of tariffs and alternate sources for PCBs and the larger divide between the U.S. and China, potentially leading to far broader implications for U.S.-led vs. China-led technologies. The world has changed dramatically since then. Mehul explores how the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the rollout of 5G and relations between the U.S. and China.

View Story

The Big Picture: Globalization—Tariffs and Alternate Sources

01-09-2020

The new year is upon us, so Mehul Davé started thinking about the main challenges his company and customers are facing as we enter 2020: tariffs and finding alternate sources for PCBs. Mehul shares his thoughts.

View Story
Back

2019

The Big Picture: Globalization—What Happened?

07-16-2019

Cheap products and services from places like China and India are good, but giving up the position of being the top dog doesn't sit well with most people—especially when you have leaders around the world reminiscing about the past and wanting to make XYZ great again or something similar.

View Story

Can Do in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering— Building Redundancy in Critical Areas

01-22-2019

Many believe that outsourcing is wrong because it takes away from local jobs. That may be the case if this industry can find the talent level at a cost that they can afford, but this is not the case in North America or Europe.

View Story
Back

2018

‘Can Do’ in CAM Outsourcing: Improving Quality in CAM Engineering

09-19-2018

In this series, Mehul J. Davé, CEO of Entelechy Global Inc., will address six ways in which a company can significantly benefit from outsourcing their front-end CAM work.

View Story

CAM Engineering—Reducing Costs

06-12-2018

While having on-demand capacity, improved automation, and fast turn-around are critical to any front-end engineering operation, achieving those goals with a cost-effective solution is imperative. Electronics are constantly under cost-reduction pressures. Functionality, capability, and complexity increase while costs decrease.

View Story
Back

2017

CAM Engineering—Fast Turn-Around

09-11-2017

Time-to-market has been the mantra for every successful technology company. The best among them have strong and integrated supply chains that march to the drum of the OEMs and EMS providers that bring that technology to market. A big part of that success, especially in North America and Europe, is the ability for PCB manufacturers to turn around complex PCBs very quickly. The hallmark of PCB production in these higher-tech, higher-cost regions is flexibility and responsiveness.

View Story
Back

2016

CAM Engineering – Automation

12-19-2016

As volume production in PCB has shifted significantly to Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America have been focusing on high technology, quick-turn, prototype, and lower-volume production.

View Story

A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

04-29-2016

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.

View Story
Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.