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.
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.