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Intellectual Property: Trust… But Verify

By John Hallman, Product Manager Trust & Security, OneSpin | Blog for Semiconductor Engineering

As the supply chain of components and IP expands, so too do the opportunities for adversarial tampering.

For those around the microelectronic component industry for many years, we have seen quite a transformation of capability, sourcing of the supply chain, and now threats to these devices that drive the technology in our world today.

These integrated circuits (ICs), once so simple as a few transistors, have continued to follow Moore’s Law and are now made up of tens of billions of transistors. ICs have become so complex that they too are now made up of many independent modules, often referred to as third-party intellectual property (3PIP).

In addition to the increased capability, the source of the components, as well as the 3PIP, has become a global effort. Examples of this globalization are evident by design and production of such major systems as the Apple iPhone and the F-35 fighter jet. The major suppliers for the Apple iPhone all demonstrate a global contribution to a complex supply chain. Similarly, several countries, including the U.S., Netherlands, Norway, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Turkey, and Italy, are all source supply for the F-35.

As the complexity of the system, components, and the supply chain all increase, the opportunity for adversarial tampering causes a growing concern.


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