Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Counterfeit obsolete parts will still be a concern despite better tracking

As Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, of EBNonline, points out in a recent blog post, more than half of all cases of counterfeit electronic components involve obsolete parts.  According to an infographic from SiliconExpert Technologies, which accompanied her post, more than 89% of all counterfeit incidents in the first five months of 2013 involve obsolete parts.  You can read her blog at http://www.ebnonline.com/author.asp?section_id=3219&doc_id=273470

Parts in the defense and aerospace industries have a long lifecycle so the demand for them remains long after the parts are no longer in production and the supply starts to dwindle.  Therefore, counterfeiting these parts can appear profitable.  :It is recommended that any components that are purchased without an authentic manufacturers C of C Certificate of compliance should undergo Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts: Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation testing in accordance with SAE Aerospace standard AS6081.

Friday, April 11, 2014

DARPA proposed SHIELD: a useful tool against counterfeit electronic components

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking proposals for its Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense (SHIELD) program.  SHEILD aims to develop a small (100 micron x 100 micron) component, or dielet, to authenticate the provenance of electronics components.
As envisioned, SHIELD technology would provide 100 percent assurance against these common threats to electronic components:
  • Recycled components that are sold as new
  • Unlicensed overproduction of authorized components
  • Test rejects and sub-standard components sold as high-quality
  • Parts marked with falsely elevated reliability or newer date of manufacture
  • Clones and copies, which may be of low quality, or may include hidden functionality
  • Components that are covertly repackaged for unauthorized applications

As described on the DARPA website (http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/02/24.aspx), the proposed dielets would “contain a full encryption engine, sensors to detect tampering and would readily affix to today’s electronic components such as microchips. The dielet will be inserted into the electronic component’s package at the manufacturing site or affixed to existing trusted components, without any alteration of the host component’s design or reliability. There is no electrical connection between the dielet and the host component.”  
I like the concept of a dielet being inserted into the electronic components package or attached onto the existing component without any alteration of the current design of the component.

DARPA’s proposed SHIELD program is not enough on its own. I do strongly suggest the continuance of implementing a robust counterfeit detection test strategy as well as a plan to register the product and associated serial numbers.  These combined steps are necessary to alert the manufacturer when there is a counterfeit device out in the market.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NJMET Affiliates with Aeroflex RAD for Radiation Testing

I am happy to announce that NJMET is now affiliating with Aeroflex RAD in Colorado Springs, CO to test the effects of radiation on electronic components.  This affiliation will enable NJMET, based in Clifton NJ, to add radiation testing to NJMET’s electrical functional and parametric testing of components. 

The process will now be seamless for clients. They will send their components to NJMET for testing and NJMET will perform initial electrical functional and parametric testing at the devices ambitent and maximum operating temperature ranges before sending the components to Aeroflex RAD for radiation effect testing as part of a comprehensive suite of tests.  The components will be returned to NJMET for additional round of the same electrical testing after the radiation exposure.

Aeroflex RAD is the only facility in the country to be DSCC certified for radiation testing to both MIL-STD-750 and MIL-STD-883.  I am proud that NJMET is affiliating with Aeroflex RAD to provide this reliability service.

For more information, see our press release:
NJ MET Announces Affiliation with Aeroflex RAD to Provide Radiation Testing and Support

Friday, March 23, 2012

DNA Marking Technologies

DNA testing is so commonplace on TV, if not in real life, that we are used to the idea that DNA testing can be used to unequivocally identify a person from the tiniest bit of genetic material. In today’s world it is only a small leap forward to suggest that we could identify manufactured parts using DNA marking.

Two DNA marking technologies are emerging for electronic components. One pioneered by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany and Long Island-based Applied DNA Sciences, Inc, involves injecting plant DNA into electronic components during manufacturing. The other approach relies on the unique properties found in the silicon used in the chips. This approach is known as Hardware Intrinsic Security (HIS) and revolves around Physically Unclonable Function (PUF) technology, It is being developed by members of the HIS consortium including Intrinsic-ID BV, Cisco Systems, TSMC, NXP, Microsemi, IMEC, MIPS, SiVenture and Renesas.

DNA testing of electronic components is likely to become an exciting new tool to combat counterfeit electronic components. It makes a nice fit with existing testing methods for counterfeit components.

For more information about both approaches to DNA marking of electronic components see: http://www.ttiinc.com/object/me-slovick-20120222.html.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Electronic Components May Contain Cyberspying Threat

Even “legitimate” electronic components made in China and other countries may contain dangerous surprises.  There is growing concern that such components may include the hidden ability to spy on US telecom and computer network data.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Obama administration is pressing US telecom companies to reveal information about such possible electronic espionage attempts.  The government is using Cold War powers to pressure companies to provide the information.

“This is beyond vague suspicions,” said Richard Falkenrath, a senior fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity Initiative. “Congress is now looking at this as well, and they’re doing so based on very specific material provided them in a classified setting by the National Security Agency,” he said.

This is a growing area of concern. Watch for additional and widening investigations.  Now we test electronic components to ensure that they do what is expected of them. Soon we may be testing them to make sure they only do what is expected, with no hidden functions or capabilities. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SIA President Testifies on Dangers of Counterfeit Chips

The president of  the  Semiconductor Industry Association recently testified before Congress on the dangers and costs of counterfeit electronic components.

“The catastrophic failure risk inherently found in counterfeit semiconductors places our citizens and military personnel in unreasonable peril. A counterfeit semiconductor is a ticking time bomb,” Brian Toohey,  the president of the Semiconductor Industry Association told the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is investigating counterfeit electronic parts in the Department of Defense supply chain.

“Counterfeiters violate American companies’ intellectual property rights and cost American’s jobs. We estimate that counterfeiting costs US-based semiconductor companies more than $7.5 billion each year.
For more information on Toohey’s testimony before the Senate committee see:  SIA President Testifies on Dangers of Counterfeit Chips

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Discussions on Proper Electrical Testing of Components at the DMSMS 2011 Conference

A major concern at the recently concluded DMSMS conference was the US Department of Defense potential cutback of electrical testing of electronic components.

The Military and Aerospace industry attendees and exhibitors had major concerns about the limited testing performed by a curve/contact tester versus the preferred DC, AC, functional and parametric testing of a device.  The preferred tests are important in uncovering counterfeit products.
I gave a lecture at the conference entitled “Proper Electrical Testing to Detect Counterfeit Components.”  Its scope was to educate members of the electronics industry about the risks associated with performing only basic contact testing with simple counterfeit detectors as opposed to the preferred functional and parametric exercises required to properly test these suspect electronic components.  Electrical testing provides a more thorough exercise in testing electronic component products to illustrate their accuracy and authenticity.

As exhibitors at the recent DMSMS conference, NJMET presented our Mission: Imposter Counterfeit Component Test Program. The team at NJMET participated in the Counterfeit Parts Control Plan Implementations, the DMSMS Tools and Services Program, as well as technical sessions and panels which included: Institutionalizing Standard Practices, Defense Initiatives and Their Impact to DMSMS, Counterfeit Mitigation Strategies, and Counterfeit Reporting.
For more about the DMSMS conference see “Joseph Federico talks on proper electrical testing at the DMSMS and Standardization Conference 2011.”