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Gartner: Supply Chain To Become A Top-Three Security Concern

Integrity of data passed between hardware, software, and information suppliers will be a key security issue by 2017, research firm says
Enterprise IT supply chains will be targeted and compromised, forcing changes in the structure of the IT marketplace, according to a study published Thursday by Gartner Inc.

By 2017, IT supply chain integrity will be identified as a top three security-related concern by Global 2000 IT leaders, Gartner said in a summary of its supply chain security report.

Gartner defines supply chain integrity as "the process of managing an organization's internal capabilities, as well as its partners and suppliers, to ensure all elements of an integrated solution are of high assurance." The IT supply chain includes internally developed applications, as well as those supplied by third parties, the research firm says.

"IT supply chain integrity issues are real, and will have mainstream enterprise IT impact within the next five years," said Neil MacDonald, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement about the new report. "In the shorter term, the market for information security offerings will fragment along geopolitical lines. In the longer term, the same will happen for OSs and other IT system infrastructure software, reshaping the IT landscape moving forward.

"Enterprise IT departments must begin to make changes today to protect their systems and information in a world where all IT systems are suspect," MacDonald said. "These changes in information protection strategies will help enterprises embrace and adopt cloud computing and consumerization, which have strikingly similar issues with untrusted systems."

The IT supply chain has become more complex because many systems are built in different, competing parts of the world, Gartner says.

"Hardware vendors are increasingly outsourcing not just manufacturing, but also design to OEM suppliers and contractors located in Asia and India," the research firm notes. "In some cases, established Asian suppliers are outsourcing to emerging economies, such as Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia. This is a complex problem, since most hardware systems are a conglomeration of components and subsystems procured from a large number of individual providers."

Ensuring the integrity of software supply chains is a more difficult problem because of the increased use of offshore development, the relative ease of cloning software, and the ongoing need to keep software patched and updated via trusted mechanisms, Gartner says.

Information providers, suppliers, and cloud-based services -- such as data from Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon -- could also pose a risk, Gartner says.

"This information can be incorporated into connected applications, information marketplaces and the information integrated from partners in an extended supply chain ecosystem," Gartner says." Critical decisions will be based on information assembled from many other sources, creating a similar supply chain integrity issue to that of hardware and software."

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