Thursday, 6 March 2014

DARPA Aims to Eradicate Counterfeit Components

Photo Courtesy of DARPA
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking proposals to develop a small (100 micron x 100 micron) component or dielet, that will authenticate the origin of electronic components and give 100% assurance against counterfeits. 

Over the past two years alone, over one million suspect counterfeit parts have been associated with known compromises of the defense supply chain. With both expensive and inexpensive electronic parts being targeted, counterfeit as well as suspect parts, present a critical risk to the Department of Defense (DoD), where a malfunction of a single part could lead to system failures that put lives and missions at risk.

The DARPA program, named Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense (SHEILD), seeks to develop a component or dielet which will contain a full encryption engine, sensors to detect tampering and will readily affix to today's electronic components such as microchips.

The successful development of SHIELD technology will provide 100% assurance against common threats such as; recycled components that are sold as new, unlicensed overproduction, test rejects and sub standard components sold as high-quality, parts falsely marked, clones and copies and components that are repackaged for unauthorised applications.

“SHIELD demands a tool that costs less than a penny per unit, yet makes counterfeiting too expensive and technically difficult to do,” said Kerry Bernstein, DARPA program manager. “The dielet will be designed to be robust in operation, yet fragile in the face of tampering. What SHIELD is seeking is a very advanced piece of hardware that will offer an on-demand authentication method never before available to the supply chain.”

The dielet will be inserted into the electronic component's package by the manufacturer, or affixed to existing trusted components, without any impact on its design or reliability. There will be no electrical connection between the two. Authenticity testing could then be done anywhere with a handheld probe, or an automated one for larger volumes. Probes will need to be close to the dielet for scanning. After a scan, an inexpensive appliance (perhaps a smartphone) uploads a serial number to a central, industry-owned server. The sever then sends an unencrypted challenge to the dielet, which sends back an encrypted answer and data from passive sensors - like light exposure - that could indicate tampering.

DARPA will be hosting a Proposers' Day Workshop in support of the SHIELD program, which will be held on 14th March 2014. For more information and to read the article in full, please visit the DARPA website.

Visit the Atlantis Electronics website to view our Counterfeit Policy.

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