The security and integrity of DoD electronic systems is challenged by the presence of counterfeit integrated circuits (ICs) in the supply chain. Counterfeiters use a variety of easy and inexpensive techniques to recycle discarded ICs, alter them, and reintroduce them to the supply chain for profit. These parts have questionable reliability and may not function as specified. The failure of a fielded DoD system due to the presence of a counterfeit IC can jeopardize the success of a mission and put lives at risk.
The goal of DARPA’s SHIELD program is to eliminate counterfeit integrated circuits from the electronics supply chain by making counterfeiting too complex and time-consuming to be cost effective. SHIELD aims to combine NSA-level encryption, sensors, near-field power and communications into a microscopic-scale chip capable of being inserted into the packaging of an integrated circuit. The 100 micrometer x 100 micrometer "dielet" will act as a hardware root of trust, detecting any attempt to access or reverse engineer the dielet. Authentication of the IC will be achieved through the use of an external probe that can provide power to the dielet, establish a secure link between the dielet and a server as well as verify the provenance of the IC.
The SHIELD dielet design incorporates passive, unpowered sensors capable of capturing attempts to image, de-solder, de-lid or image the IC; mechanical processes that make the dielet fragile and prevent intact removal from its package; a full encryption engine and advanced near-field technology to power and communicate with the dielet.
The SHIELD program consists of three phases. The first phase includes research and development efforts for the technologies to be implemented on the dielet. In the second phase, performers are required to design and manufacture the dielet. The final phase of the program seeks to demonstrate the SHIELD concept of operation in an electronics supply-chain environment.
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