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SMT-Mar2014

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92 SMT Magazine • March 2014 by Todd kramer SeCure CoMponenTS inC. kramEr ON cOmPONENTS coluMn Investigations, Evidence, and an Unclear Solution for 2014 In November of 2011, when the United States government publicly got involved in at- tempting to curb the epidemic of counterfeits in the supply chain, it was a little too late. The Sen- ate Arms Services Committee, led by Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, gave Americans their first glimpse into the catastrophic dangers that our Department of Defense and the aero- space community was facing. The Committee on Armed Services held a hearing regarding the investigation of counterfeit electronic parts in the defense supply chain and revealed alarming facts about how easy counterfeit components can infiltrate the supply chain. At the request of McCain and Levin, an investigation was performed by the Govern- ment Accountability Office (GAO), which in- volved the creation of a fictitious company with the intent of gaining membership in two Internet platforms offering electronic components. This false company was pro- vided with an owner, employees, mailing ad- dress, e-mail addresses, a website and a list- ing on the Central Contractors Registration. Report: Counterfeits in the Supply Chain As a result of this investigation, the GAO- 12-375 report was released to the public on Feb- ruary 21, 2012. Heavily involved in this project was Tim Parsons, chief scientist of the GAO. Re- cently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Parsons and discuss what he felt were the most important findings uncovered or learned as a result of this investigation. He said, "To sum- marize the key findings of our investigation re- port, we found that counterfeit electronic parts were indeed found in the supply chain of a number of key weapons systems (which often have multi-decadal life cycles), were relatively easy to acquire through internet platforms, and were increasingly sophisticated such that advanced inspection and authentication tech- niques were required to classify them as suspect counterfeit." counterfeits components: Worldwide The GAO investigation discovered that suspect counterfeit and bogus electronic components— parts which are not associ- ated with any actual electronic parts—are readily available across numerous Internet- based purchasing platforms. This declara- tion was confirmed when none of the 16 parts provided to GAO by various vendors proved to be genuine. Although there are different terms used to describe bogus parts, such as suspect, fraudulent, or counterfeit, the term "suspect counterfeit," which ap- plies to the first two categories of parts that were tested by the GAO, is the strongest term that was used by an independent test- ing lab taking part in the study. The term "suspect counterfeit" represents a poten- Figure 1: Senate arms Services Committee led by Senators McCain and levin.

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