skip to main content

Characterizing End-to-End Risk of the Telecommunications Supply Chain

Research Team Leadership

  • PI: Dr. Iris Tien, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Research Assistants: Graduate Research Assistants, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Homeland Security Challenge
Telecommunications infrastructure is critical to national security, public health and safety, and the functionality of national systems. In addition to its services enabling communications between human beings, telecommunications infrastructure is increasingly critical in support of other national functions. The connectivity and reliance on telecommunications includes important elements of national infrastructure such as controls at electricity generation plants and switches for the electricity grid. All of the supports and national infrastructure functions are of essential importance to DHS and the HSE. With telecommunications in the United States undergoing rapid change, such as the transition to 5G for the cellular network, a comprehensive risk assessment of telecommunications infrastructure is needed. 

The COE Solution 
While the telecommunications supply chain is complex, the hypothesis is that there are specific vulnerabilities that we can identify. This project will characterize these vulnerabilities in terms of their physical assets or technologies, service-based operational procedures, disruptions, and their corresponding levels of impact. The risk profile is also affected by the new transition to a 5G network. We believe there are some elements that are reducing current risks and others that are adding new risks. We will explain these elements within a risk framework that maps individual elements within a comprehensive network of operations. To test our hypothesis about the risk profile of the new 5G network, we will compare various scenarios to assess the impacts of 5G on telecommunication supply chain risk. Doing so will enable us to identify and characterize where the greatest vulnerabilities are.