Counterfeit Chips Traced to Weapon Programs

Last week, Wired Magazine reported on the findings regarding a large number of counterfeit military IC’s purchased from the company VisionTech by the US Navy. Business Insider published a similar article with slightly more alarmist leanings. Both articles discuss the worst-case scenario: foreign installed ‘Trojan Horses’ found in counterfeit ICs that have self-destruct timers or watch for specific input triggers to stop working (‘Kill Switches’).

Reading the indictment itself of VisionTech’s activities is startling — over 59,000 ICs were purchased and discovered to be fakes, with forged markings and logo/copyright violations of over 20 different chip suppliers (most of the top industrial IC suppliers, including FPGA and ASICs).

The Chinese operation supplying these appears to be very sophisticated, and they seem to have no problem identifying small companies within the United States willing to broker these false devices into any defense source they can find.

This puts a spotlight, once again, on whether there is a need for a ‘Trusted Supply’ of microelectronics within the Department of Defense, whether Trust can be applied after the fabrication process, and whether a few ‘Trusted ICs’ in a system is sufficient to ensure the safety and critical operation of US weapon systems.

Read more in a new White Paper posted on the CPU Tech website.

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