CTT Conversations: The NVIDIA Hack and the National Security Catastrophe

The hack of NVIDIA has exposed the blueprints of a $580 billion semiconductor juggernaut, putting some of America’s most valuable chip designs at risk of appropriation by Chinese government entities and others. CTT sat down with Dylan Patel, a leading semiconductor industry analyst and Daniel Markus, lead China Task Force staffer to discuss mitigating the impact of this hack.

Patel provided an overview of the Nvidia hack and the implications pertaining to Chinese semiconductor firms. Patel explained, “Nvidia’s software is best in class, and hackers have exposed Nvidia’s proprietary designs and put them in the public domain. Now Chinese AI firms and others can kick start their own R&D and catch up with ease… It’s virtually impossible to protect yourself entirely.” He continued, “The US government’s been hacked. You know, Nvidia has been hacked, it’s quite a few entities that have the sophistication and means to not be hacked, have been hacked.”

Though lagging in chip design, Chinese firms could access the stolen files and bridge their chip design gap with NVIDIA’s world class designs.

There are opportunities for the United States to engage, strengthen, and rebuild from this experience. Markus highlighted US policies aimed at both protecting technology and retaliating effectively.  “US policy is supposedly prepared for this sort of thing. We have various instruments to keep vital technology from falling into the hands of competitors and adversaries… Despite not having an Undersecretary in place, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has performed very well at engaging with partners and allies, explaining the concerns, explaining the things that can be done, and then getting at least commitments to put in place substantially similar policies.”

In the remainder of the discussion, the panelists observed how for the long term, BIS requires leadership to achieve both diplomatic and national goals; that the US needs to fortify semiconductor legislation, and that new China-Russia cooperation in the wake of the Ukraine crisis has galvanized US and EU semiconductor to be more competitive and resilient.

Dylan Patel is the Chief Analyst for Semi Analysis.  Read his assessment of the NVIDIA hack here.

Watch the full conversation below: