Tuesday, June 28, 2011

US Government Seeks to Stave Off Malicious Foreign-Sourced Microchips

Article first published as US Government Seeks to Stave Off Malicious Foreign-Sourced Microchips on Technorati.

Photo courtesy Andres Rueda
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is initiating the Trusted Integrated Chips (TIC) Program partly due to the discovery last year that the US Navy purchased 59,000 counterfeit microchips produced in China. It is believed that these microchips, which are used in critical military and defense systems, could be spiked with malicious circuitry or back-doors. The new program will help ensure that microchips produced overseas (where higher yields and more efficient production costs are achieved) are safe.

IARPA is soliciting feedback on how to protect the microchips that are used in missile control and other critical military and defense systems. One of the techniques mentioned is "obfuscation," where "the intent of digital and analog functions and their associated building blocks are disguised." Another solution mentioned by Wired/Danger Room is to divide the front/back-end-of-line processing where the more sensitive features of a microchip are finished off at a secure, trusted facility. The security of foreign-sourced microchips is more important now than ever as technology is integrated more into such military applications as aerial drones, robots and missile control systems. (Sources:  Washington Post, Wired)

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