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DARPA Chip Aims to Secure Electronics Throughout the Supply Chain

It turns out that “SHIELD” really does exist in the US government, but not in the form of super heroes battling aliens. SHIELD stands for “Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense,” and it aims to develop new technology at the Pentagon that can identify compromised or counterfeit components in defense systems and assorted electronics.

This Chip Will Self-Destruct

Trying to replicate or reverse engineer these new chips will cause them to self-destruct, crippling the capabilities of would-be deviants. The way it works is that the chips would have a secret code, and the manufacturer’s computer servers would provide a digital key for unlocking the code. It goes like this:

The server issues “a random challenge 'question' which is downloaded through [an external probing device] to the SHIELD,” the notice explains. In the chip, an “encryption engine” codes the question using an internal, secure cryptographic key and sends the encrypted “answer” back up to the server. Then, the server unencrypts the answer using its cryptographic key, and compares it to the original challenge for confirmation.

Chips might further use things like X-rays and light in their passive sensors to indicate if someone has tampered with the hardware. It is expected to take four years to develop the chips, but their potential to add a whole new layer to security warrants some excitement. You can read the original article here: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/03/darpa-chip-aims-secure-electronics-throughout-supply-chain/79738/

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