Those who have been keeping up know the threat counterfeiting poses to the embedded world. To this point, most of our conversations regarding counterfeits have been focused on the damage they can do to projects, the costs incurred to replace them, and the threat they pose to the security of the supply chain. However, there is still the basic, personal way they continue to threaten us—the real and direct danger to us and our families as we go about the day-to-day business of driving from place to place. Counterfeit tires are on the road, and they are less safe and of lower quality than the products they pretend to be.
It isn’t a high-profile battle, but those who know are aware that our armed forces are engaged in a perpetual war with an enemy that is, ultimately, unbeatable. That enemy is obsolescence. However, just because obsolescence is inevitable, it doesn’t mean there aren’t victories. Or one singular “VICTORY,” as the case may be.
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night with chest pains. You can’t call 911 because you live in a region without telephone service. There are few emergency services available and, even so, there are few functional roads. The pains pass, but you know you need to have it looked at. You begin the long, possibly dangerous trek from your remote home to one of the surrounding urban areas. You will try to locate a medical center, where you will receive modern medical care and access to high-tech diagnostics and treatments that aren’t available in your area.
Saline isn’t one of the products that most people tend to think about in terms of supply and demand. It has become almost universal in the medical world—especially if you stop to consider how often you see it adorning the background of hospital scenes in film and TV. In addition to being thought of as […]
The extent of component counterfeiting can be staggering when you think about it:
- Unmarked refurbished units
- Salvaged components dressed up to look new
- Illegal clones or second-run components
- Tainted components manufactured with malicious hidden features
If non-authentic components have made their way into your production line, then each such situation represents a unique set of potentially life-threatening risks and vulnerabilities even beyond cost and schedule slippage. Today, thanks to the developers at Corelis, Inc., the good guys have a new anti-counterfeiting weapon in their arsenal: the JTAG Interrogator.
Earlier this spring, scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) announced a prototype process for producing liquid hydrocarbon fuel from seawater. NRL’s proprietary process uses a modular reaction system to remove CO2 from seawater (with 92% efficiency) while producing hydrogen gas. Once separated, the nickel-supported catalyst conversion system combines them again into liquid hydrocarbon […]
At DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), proposals are already being accepted for the new Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics program, aka SHIELD. The SHIELD program will be the DOD’s response to component counterfeiting in the supply chain and will include the use of a “a small (100 micron x 100 micron) component, or dielet, that authenticates the provenance of electronics components. Proposed dielets should contain a full encryption engine, sensors to detect tampering and would readily affix to today’s electronic components such as microchips.” The goal, according to MTO Program Manager Kerry Bernstein is to provide a chip that monetarily and technically deincentivizes counterfeiting, yet can be produced for less than a penny per unit.
In January of 2013, the Edison Electric Institute released a report titled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business”, which outlined a variety of challenges traditional power utilities will face in the upcoming years. The current power infrastructure in the United States wasn’t constructed with end-user power generation in mind, so the increasing power independence of households and businesses creates threats of “irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects.” Chief among new technologies are advanced renewable energy sources, including solar, and the growth of grid-independent distributed power generators, aka microgrids.
When reading the news around counterfeit components, much of the dialogue is driven by the defense industry. When you are dealing with systems that protect our national security and the lives of the people out in the field – you’re not dealing with counterfeits in a bunch of trivial electronics. You’re taking necessary steps to protect the lives of men and women who depend on the systems for their safety. Since 2011 more than 1800 cases of counterfeit components were reported in defense applications, including mission computers operating the THAAD missile system, in the Air Force’s C-27J, in the Navy’s P-8A, and in electromagnetic interference filters on an SH-60B helicopter.
However, the trouble with counterfeits isn’t limited to the defense industry and the military. They’re just currently the ones driving the conversation and legislation such as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Sec. 818.