IBM works with DARPA on SHIELD electronics defense

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has started working with IBM to integrate its SHIELD electronics anti-counterfeit system with the tech giant’s blockchain platform.

DARPA introduced SHIELD (Supply Chain Hardware Integrity of Electronics Defense) three years ago as a way to protect chips against counterfeiting and tampering. The system takes the form of semiconductor 'dielets' that can be added covertly to electronic components during manufacturing and verified in the field.

“With this integration, IBM and DARPA are leveraging the open source Hyperledger platform with SHIELD to provide enhanced trust for smart contracts,” said DARPA in a tweet to announce the collaboration.

SHIELD takes the form of a 100 x 100 micrometre chip that includes NSA-level encryption, sensors, near-field power and communications that can be inserted into the packaging of an integrated circuit. DARPA describes it as a hardware “root of trust” – in addition to allowing the IC to be authenticated using an external probe, the dielet can detect any attempt to access or reverse engineer it, and self-destruct to avoid getting into the wrong hands.

According to the agency, the aim of SHIELD is to eliminate counterfeit integrated circuits from the electronics supply chain by making counterfeiting “too complex and time-consuming to be cost effective.”

SHIELD is now in the final phase of development, being road-tested by partners in the electronics supply chain. For obvious reason at the moment the companies taking part in the pilot phase are being kept under wraps. But the IBM agreement reveals that work is already underway to enhance the use of the technology in supply chains.

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