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Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw

10/24/2011 01:13 PM EDT
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DAH2136
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
DAH2136   10/24/2011 4:52:09 PM
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Now imagine that State was helping create the counterfeits. Pretty cool way of infiltrating a system.

pdudley
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pdudley   10/24/2011 8:59:25 PM
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The solution is simple: Bring the manufacturing back HOME. Stop supporting slave labor, uncontrolled pollution and counterfeiting. The additional plus is it would also create jobs!

fdunn0
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fdunn0   10/24/2011 9:24:01 PM
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You actually think that the military and their contractors are going to learn from this? NOT! But I am in complete agreement with you as if/when we were to have political issues with these countries then no more parts for our military! I think the military are fools to purchase any component that is mission critical that is not designed and manufactured in the continental U.S.

C VanDorne
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
C VanDorne   10/25/2011 12:38:05 PM
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Great! I'm game. But then nobody better complain about the $400 toilett seat, or the $6,500 VME computer board.

sierra tango
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sierra tango   10/26/2011 9:08:44 PM
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I too agree, the whole $400 toilet seat and $500 wrench is pure drivel, in military work, (of late this has improved) a good portion of the cost comes from the reams of product and origin specifications that must be met. COTS helps, but the fed runs on paperwork....

Code Monkey
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Code Monkey   10/24/2011 9:31:05 PM
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A chip company (or several) should sue CBP for their losses caused by pointless redaction. They'll change their interpretation of the Trade Secrets Act real fast. Counterfeit parts are a shameful cost for both consumers and OEMs. OTOH, this may spur the market for test equipment and microscopes.

batavier
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batavier   10/24/2011 9:34:00 PM
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There are two types of sources for parts: (authorized) distributors and brokers. Almost all military contractors I know, and work for or have worked for, only buy from factory authorized distributors. Buying from a broker, even ethical ones that have anti-counterfeit policies in force, poses an incalculable risk, for high-rel circuits,

rtegg
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rtegg   10/24/2011 9:42:58 PM
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We have a solution to this problem that I am trying to get traction to. We use a small scaled 2-D array that is placed on ALL semi parts at the trusted facility. Data on this is a key which can be matched with an IT cloud. This creates a huge barrier for counterfeiters making a profit on product. It also is extremely cost effective at fractions of a cent per part. Each device can be quickly read and validated for authenticity. I would love the opportunity to showcase this more on EEtimes.

nicolas.mokhoff
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nicolas.mokhoff   10/25/2011 3:28:54 PM
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rtegg: care to send us an abstract for a possible technical article we would use in EE Times?

J_Lewis
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J_Lewis   10/25/2011 4:21:42 PM
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Nic, I would like to discuss a solution with you if you can contact me by email.

rtegg
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rtegg   10/26/2011 3:58:51 PM
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Nic, Let me know where I can send you the abstract. Ross T.

rtegg
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rtegg   10/26/2011 7:33:55 PM
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Nic, You can send any information to sales@triunesystems.com Best, Ross

DrQuine
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
DrQuine   10/24/2011 11:35:27 PM
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Obsolete components pose a serious challenge. If everything must be repaired using new components that can be directly traced back to the manufacturer then the failure of a single obsolete component can doom an entire system to the dustbin. Remaindering, resale, reuse, or recycling of components may be a legitimate process - the challenge is to ensure the integrity of the components. Could a system be developed which replicates the manufacturer's manufacturing line acceptance tests to validate components outside the supply chain and allow them to legitimately rejoin the pathway as needed?

gil@pcxco.com
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gil@pcxco.com   10/28/2011 10:17:47 PM
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Dr. Quine, I couldn't agree more with your view of the supply chain cycle and the legitimate (and economically needed niche) recycling of components fills. Please contact me at your convenience to discuss some ideas that we have had concerning this very concept you describe (Gil@pcxco.com)

@(QjQ)@
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@(QjQ)@   10/25/2011 12:44:18 AM
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Hmmm ... we have "Fast and Furious" ... and we have this fiasco ... Citizens of the USA: There is only one way to fix these kind of problems ... caused by the over-bloated beauracracy in Washington ... We need to make that beauracracy smaller ... _much_ smaller! ...

Simon7382
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
Simon7382   10/27/2011 7:47:12 AM
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What a BS! John, you should stop listening to Limbaugh, Fox and their right wing idiotic ilk.

abraxalito
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abraxalito   10/25/2011 3:52:26 AM
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McCloskey a lone 'bad apple'? I think not. Experience suggests this is just the tip of the iceberg, rather akin to Bernie Madoff.

Silicon_Smith
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Silicon_Smith   10/27/2011 6:06:39 PM
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I agree. And considering the magnitude of this one discovery, I am scared to know how much more it could be.

gil@pcxco.com
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gil@pcxco.com   10/28/2011 10:19:47 PM
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You are 100% correct. The problem is massive and on a monumental scale. Frankly if a certain area of Shenzhen could be glassified without loss of life, I would vote yes on that one.

hkdale
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hkdale   10/25/2011 10:24:57 AM
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Already a government trial is underway marking chips using botanical DNA. See Applied DNA for more details

Haldor
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Haldor   11/2/2011 1:45:53 PM
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What is the point of that since the implementation of this would end up being in China anyway. Biggest risk to doing business in China is that the typical turnover in engineering is less than 2 years. Within a year the counterfitters will have all the information they will need to defeat this measure.

jaybus0
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
jaybus0   10/25/2011 12:17:52 PM
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There is an easy solution. The first time counterfeit goods are detected, wait for the next scheduled shipment. Get a search warrant and board that next ship. If counterfeit goods are found on the ship, then sieze the ship and its cargo. Arrest and promptly release the captain and crew. After the trial is over, the shipping company can negotiate for the return of their ship and its cargo after they pay a large impound fee. Many will scream bloody murder, but the more public the case, the better. The end result will be that no shipping company will ever again do business with the counterfeiters. The shipping company will have a tainted reputation, as neither the importers of the siezed cargo nor the exporters will happy.

nicolas.mokhoff
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nicolas.mokhoff   10/25/2011 3:31:43 PM
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Clever solution, jaybus. Now all one has to worry about is catching payoffs to the shipping company to let things stay as they are.

jaybus0
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jaybus0   10/28/2011 7:03:03 PM
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The ship could be impounded for a year or more for this sort of case. It would have to be a very large payoff indeed for a shipping company to risk losing a ship for that long.

agk
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agk   10/25/2011 12:30:54 PM
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At every manufacturing plant QC is working and they passs the consignment into the stores. So the QC got to be strong. This will save lot of issues. Also The purchase to be made only from authorised suppliers.Proper planning is required because of delivery times by the manufacturers are not consistent.

docdivakar
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
docdivakar   10/28/2011 4:51:50 PM
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@agk: the burden is really the customer companies who when buying from an "approved vendor" depend on that vendor to sell them genuine parts. Many defense companies (I worked for one!) will require you DESC certification of your components, enforced by a component engineer (& frequently verified by that person). Well, that role is now a days lot like the Dodo bird, extinct! Scary, the way this is has unfolded (including one for my former employer, Peregrine Semi). MP Divakar

john bougs
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john bougs   10/25/2011 1:05:21 PM
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"The memorandum recommended McCloskey serve a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence and pay restitution to the trademark owners for damages estimated at close to $600,000. The trademark owners named in the memorandum are a veritable who’s who of the semiconductor industry." The other problem is who is considered to have been wronged here. The damage done to the the trademark owners is minor compared to the damage done to the companies purchasing these parts.

john bougs
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john bougs   10/25/2011 5:02:45 PM
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Did not make my point very well. The restitution to the trademark owners but nothing is made to the companies that purchased the parts.

Bruce Rayner
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Bruce Rayner   10/25/2011 1:37:10 PM
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Yes you are right about that and the US Attorney acknowledged that in the memorandum.

DavidPK
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DavidPK   10/25/2011 4:16:11 PM
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Authorized Distributors! Authorized Distributors! Authorized Distributors! Authorized Distributors! Authorized Distributors! Authorized Distributors! No one else!

jlredford
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jlredford   10/25/2011 5:39:49 PM
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They're asking for a tough sentence for McCloskey, given that she was just the assistant on this scam, and that she pled guilty. How is some office manager going to pay $600,000? The principal here was Shannon Wren, but since he died in May, he's beyond their reach. The prosecutors sound frustrated and vindictive. The original charge also said that VisionTech had only imported 60,000 chips, for which it paid $400,000 and re-sold for $16M. That sounds a lot more minor than "imported 3,263 shipments". That's only 18 parts per shipment, about a FedEx envelope's worth. I also wonder if the real driver behind this is less national security than it is chip company's annoyance at counterfeiters. IP theft drives people crazy, E.g. RIAA suing little old ladies, and maybe they're making an example of VisionTech. The investigation was done by a special unit of the DoJ devoted to IP, not to security. BTW, does anyone know if Wren's death was a suicide? "A drug overdose" could be accidental or deliberate. He was certainly looking at a serious sentence, and they had seized a lot of his assets. He was apparently quite well known in drag-racing circles, and had a lot of cars.

Simon7382
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Simon7382   10/27/2011 7:44:06 AM
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Paid $400k and sold for 16M?? If this is correct than just from this huge profit margin there is no doubt that most if not all the chips were fake.

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   10/25/2011 10:34:05 PM
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This is crazy. Prior to the new CBP redaction policy in 2008, chip companies say they were able to resolve 85% of CBP requests for identification. But now that all markings are blacked out in the photos CBP sends to the chip companies, that percentage must be nearly zero. Why do they even send out redacted photos? CBP could just as well send a written description, like "black molded plastic on top of a small circuit board with X number of solder balls in a grid on the underside" -- and then somehow expect a manufacturer to answer whether that part is legit or not!

wilber_xbox
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wilber_xbox   10/26/2011 11:24:16 AM
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This is just in USA. What happens in other countries is beyond thinking. There are nuclear warhead in many companies and i am sure those nations do not have very rigorous testing facilities to separate counterfeit parts.

Khaled75
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Khaled75   10/27/2011 12:17:45 AM
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Good point. The solution in my opinion is to accept the added cost of unique identification and secure authentication of IC chips. This is in the interest of every country. PS. The cost need not be prohibitive. It's a matter of political will...

KB3001
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KB3001   10/27/2011 12:20:39 AM
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It's matter of time before secure VLSI unique identification and authentication technologies are adopted. I just hope it's not going to take a major disaster for politicians to legislate for this.

Simon7382
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Simon7382   10/27/2011 7:40:46 AM
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Hm...I believe there is a simple and quick solution: fire Bersin. His "interpretation" of the law simply does not make any sense.

Silicon_Smith
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Silicon_Smith   10/27/2011 6:09:53 PM
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$600 K in 35 shipments. Am I correct in understanding that this single broker could have dented the semiconductor industry by around $50 M in a few years? Considering the total number of shipments it has made @ ~3200

idontgetitdude
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idontgetitdude   10/28/2011 12:22:32 AM
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um, how do you counterfeit an IC ?

RTewell
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RTewell   10/28/2011 4:03:20 AM
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We could tell you but then...

Haldor
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Haldor   11/2/2011 1:50:27 PM
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One common way is to recycle used parts, repackage them and remark them as higher spec (military grade)parts. Sell as new. There is an entire industry in China that does nothing but remove and repackage ICs from PCBs sent to China for recycling. Perhaps it would make sense for us to stop sending PCBs to china for recycling?

Navelpluis
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re: Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw
Navelpluis   10/28/2011 7:09:22 PM
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Nice story about the military, but how about small commercial companies like the one we have? We have had a couple of really annoying counterfeit problems in a few of our products... And I can assure you that Authorized Distributors do not always guarantee original silicon (and passive, yes passive parts can be counterfeit too) A couple of 1000 large capacitors had 2pF capacity in stead of 220nF/400Vac. A little investigation with X-ray showed us that they are completely empty and that the wires were 1mm apart from each other to give- at least - a few pF of capacity. And how about this: A well known brand Instrumentation Amplifier with offset going through the roofs... They were the dropouts from a test facility in Taiwan and found their way -via China- repacked stamped with markings and date codes etc. and shipped to us to be used in our boards. Huge damage we had from this. Finding is 1 but solving it is 2: the boars -of course, Murphy tells us, were stuffed with the parts already. The way we solve these issues now is to use well known good available parts only and no obsolete or near obsolete parts. These will assure you to get into trouble. (Some military stuff is soooo damned old that I wonder how they get those parts needed for it anyway ;-) Not to tell you about letting stuff produced in China where they use everything they can get their hands on, except when you really supervise it well, hence, lots of extra costs...The heck with it. Now we stay in The Netherlands with our productions and we deliver ALL parts to the assembly company. In our design phase we start ordering and by the time the software is ready and hardware is okay we produce boards. Lead time is less critical this way. And I see lots of other companies here do exactly the same. Just my 5 cents, but hopefully some people will read this and learn a bit from it.

webpa
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webpa   10/29/2011 11:53:36 PM
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Counterfeit parts are nothing new. In 1973, I joined a DoD weapons laboratory (all right! The USAF Armament Laboratory) in Florida. Among other things, I designed and fabricated instrumentation for subsonic wind tunnel and aeroballistic range (sub- to hypersonic) testing. We were warned almost daily by the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) about counterfeit electronic parts...sometimes by telephone. I recall a desperate phone call from Warner-Robbins (I think) about fake 2N2222 transistors; We used them as in large quantities as buffers on paper projectile penetration screens. Other problems were MS38510-certified TTL ICs. At the lab, we could sometimes pick out the fakes by the sloppy, smeared silver printing and/or the uneven leg widths. Sometimes we were required to simply discard whole lots of ICs (the "Dumpster Solution". Not just electronics either: Counterfeit nuts, bolts, and other hardware has been a major recognized problem (in the USAF, anyway) since at least the early 1970s.

hkdale
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hkdale   11/3/2011 1:34:40 AM
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best way to prevent this is to create a secure supply chain by marking chips with a unique marker that cannot be duplicated. Such a program is already underway as a trial with an undisclosed vendor and I suspect it will become prevasive. See www.adnas.com

Clive.Hendricks
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Clive.Hendricks   11/14/2011 5:00:58 PM
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The solution is easy. Don't buy from parts brpkers. The government and its contractors should only buy frDirectly from the OEM or from a Licenced Distibuter that buys directly from the OEM. Buying from Brokers is the equivalent of buying parts at swap meet. I realize that there will be issues with obsolete parts, but there are options, i.e. one time builds with the OEM with engineering fee or aquiring the licence of licencing the IP

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