A recent article from the IEEE throws wide open the scale of the problem of counterfeit electronic components. The AGMA has estimated that an astonishing 10% of the global technology products are counterfeit. The article rightly points out that the cost is not just lost profit, but also the warranty cost of replacing faulty equipment that may have been compromised by a single bogus component.
- $1.2 million of fake Compaq computer parts - including warranty cards
- Fake GFI outlets - with fake UL logos on them, and without the GFI circuitry
- Fake Philips IC's that Philips thought had been scrapped, that showed up at a military contractor
The IEEE article discusses potential remedies to the problem. RFID is too expensive and lacks standard schemes for anti-counterfeiting, holograms are too easy to fake, taggants can work for some applications but not all. As UID gains ground in certain markets (e.g. DoD and aerospace), we think that unique part marking and scanning is a cheap and viable method. However, the UID must be secure (no serial numbers), and standardized so that anyone can easily validate it.