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.
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.
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.
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.
Marvel Comic’s SHIELD (Strategic help Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) and, slick as it is, it is more likely to wind up counterfeited than prevent counterfeiting
It is a program devised by a secretive government agency. Its purpose is to organize and motivate the top actors in their fields to come together to prevent crimes that threaten not only the economy but our national security. It focuses its attention on producing cutting-edge technologies. It is SHIELD, and it is becoming a reality.
No . . . no . . . not that SHIELD. That’s Marvel Comic’s SHIELD (Strategic help Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) and, slick as it is, it is more likely to wind up counterfeited than prevent counterfeiting. We’re talking about the Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense program being initiated by DARPA, and rather than placing a series of gigantic floating gun platforms in the upper atmosphere, it’s looking to place tiny 100 micron by 100 micron authentication dielets on all the electronic components used in Department of Defense programs.
When the subject of counterfeit mitigation and avoidance comes up you generally find a couple of areas that people focus on: standards, test/inspection, and tagging. Tagging can involve many things, including specially etched marks, marks that show up only under certain lights, rare earth tags, and DNA tags. In general, these marks rely one or […]
When it comes to avoiding counterfeit components, the CALCE and SMTA “Counterfeit East” symposium at the University of Maryland, College Park is a conference we look forward to attending. Counterfeit avoidance discussions continue to fall in a couple of camps: tags and tagging, test and inspection and quality/process control. On the legal side of things, […]
With the dialog about counterfeits in the supply chain, it is easy to lose track of what counterfeits actually mean. Yes, they will hurt your business. Yes, they can lead to heavy penalties and jail time, but counterfeits can also lead to jeopardizing lives; a risk that could otherwise have been avoided.
I am always looking for recent numbers and reports to keep the topic fresh and moving forward. But, recently, as I researched my paper for the upcoming SMTA International conference, I’ve come across some new numbers that drives home, once again, how vulnerable everyone is to the issues around counterfeits.
I personally take an average of 2-4 flights every month. According to the FAA, the amount of travel Americans are doing both for business and recreation is increasing. It is projected that the total number of people flying commercially on U.S. airlines will increase from 732 million to 746 million in 2013, and increase to 1.2 billion by 2032. And in 2010 the FAA estimated that some 520,000 counterfeit parts make their way into planes each year.
Managing components at risk of going EOL requires proactive planning. If this vital step is not implemented, critical systems run into increased risk of exposure to counterfeits. Two topics that program managers never want to hear about are counterfeit components, and end-of-life (EOL). While it is possible to come across counterfeit components on active products, this risk can generally be mitigated by implementing smart buying practices, such as purchasing from a franchised distribution line or directly from the original component manufacturer (OCM). Unfortunately, as components go EOL, yet are still needed in critical systems, they become difficult to find and increasingly more expensive. These facts combined with often careless buying practices, leave the embedded supply chain exposed to counterfeit components. These risks only increase as systems age.
Between Section 818 in the NDAA FY12 and the NDAA FY13 Amendment, the defense industry is highly aware of the risks of counterfeit components in the supply chain. As a rule, logistics teams know not to purchase parts off EBay but from authorized sources, or purchase directly from the manufacturer. They know about the SAE standards AS5553 and AS6081 for business processes and they know about guidelines for purchasing and authenticating components.