Crypto-chip Offers Counterfeit Parts Solution

 - April 8, 2009, 10:15 AM

Counterfeiting remains a serious problem in the aerospace industry. “About 2 percent of the 26 million parts installed on aircraft worldwide are counterfeit; that’s roughly half a million parts ranging from hardware to advanced electronics equipment,” said Ben Jun, vice president of technology for Cryptography Research of San Francisco. To help make counterfeiting harder to achieve, Jun’s company has developed an electronic chip called a CryptoFirewall. The chip can be embedded in a part during manufacture, then it communicates with a computer in the aircraft or another chip, he said, “using a challenge/response protocol that verifies the chip is an authentic part.” The chip can also be used for tracking purposes, to record flight hours and numbers of actuations and then provide information when limits are reached to prevent counterfeiters from trying to resell a timed-out part. CryptoFirewall works best with components that already incorporate microchips, Jun said. “We’re adding another square millimeter to the part, and manufacturers have found that quite compelling for protecting expensive parts.”