Under a program it calls SHIELD (Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense), last month DARPA requested proposals to develop a small (100 micron x 100 micron) component, or dielet, that authenticates the provenance of electronics components.
The government agency is attempting to combat the “more than one million suspect parts” of used and non-authentic counterfeit electronic components found in the defense supply chain.
“The Department of Defense puts severe demands on electronics, which is why a trusted supply chain is so important” said Kerry Bernstein, DARPA program manager. “SHIELD is a technology demonstration leveraging the asymmetry of scaling for security. While the program is being funded by DARPA, industry will adapt future implementations to make the technology scalable to the industry and the Defense supply chain.”
The agency said that proposed dielets should contain a full encryption engine, sensors to detect tampering and would readily affix to today’s electronic components such as microchips.
Successful development of SHIELD technology would provide 100% assurance against common threat modes:
- 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
“SHIELD demands a tool that costs less than a penny per unit, yet makes counterfeiting too expensive and technically difficult to do,” said Bernstein “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.”
DARPA will host a Proposers’ Day Workshop in support of the SHIELD program on March 14, 2014.