Chipmakers move to thwart counterfeiters

Component suppliers are taking action to slow the rise in counterfeit parts. STMicroelectronics and Atmel just announced techniques that employ cryptography that makes it more easier to ensure that unauthorized parts don’t make it into end products.
Bogus parts continue to cause problems throughout the supply chain, forcing EMS providers, end users and others to worry about potential failures. Chipmakers also worry worry about lost revenue and the potential that failures will hurt their brand name.
Suppliers continue to advance technologies as they attempt to stay ahead of those who provide counterfeit components. Earlier this month, STMicro unveiled its AuKey technology, which provides significantly stronger security than existing techniques. Atmel made a similar upgrade in encryption strength when it rolled out its CryptoAuthentication Starter Kit late last month.
Chipmakers aren’t the only ones attempting to reduce the growing prevalence of fake parts. Verical, an online trading startup, recently penned a white paper that details the scope of the problem while offering some solutions. Underscoring the impact that this form of theft has on this industry, Verical cites a study that said a stunning 13% of components sold in the secondary market were counterfeit.
Raising awareness of the problem is a big help, as is the ongoing effort by chipmakers to stay a step ahead of increasingly sophisticated thieves. This sort of arms race isn’t going to stop as long as unscrupulous companies see a chance to make a profit.
When fake parts make their way into end products, the potential for damages of all types is high. The recent efforts to stem the use of counterfeit components is important, but they’re just steps in a race where the finish line is a long way off.

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