FICS-eChain: Enabling End-to-End Protection of Electronics Devices and Systems


Published: April 20th, 2021

Category: News, Slider

In the modern digital era, counterfeit electronic devices and systems pose a severe threat to undisruptive service, users’ privacy as well as the national economy, and security. Adversaries can inject various counterfeit devices into the electronics supply chain due to its global and distributed nature and sheer operational complexities among numerous participants, which lacks distinct provenance, tracking, and traceability of the products from individual chips to large systems. Most importantly, traditional product verification schemes, usually provided by original component manufacturers, do not capture supply chain activities and associated risk factors at the granular phases, causing traceability and provenance analyses almost impossible. A team of researchers at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research have worked on building an infrastructure to provide a holistic solution to this problem. The infrastructure, called FICS-eChain, secure chain of provenance as devices and systems move worldwide from one entity to another and identify counterfeit devices across different supply chain phases.

FICS-eChain is a novel Blockchain-based ecosystem, the very first of its kind, to protect the electronics supply chain integrity. An early version of FICS-eChain infrastructure is built upon the Hyperledger Fabric framework to allow traditional supply chain entities to constitute a consortium and enforce policies to ensure device provenance and traceability for authentic products. For instance, a single joint strike fighter component changes hands 15 times before final installation, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights & Booz Allen Analysis. If counterfeit electronic devices are injected at any of these 15 lifecycle steps, they can lead to catastrophic failure. In FICS-eChain, these 15 entities will have to join the consortium and democratically choose the operational policies and rules of the blockchain. Through smart contracts and efficient asset data modeling, FICS-eChain performs electronic supply chain operations such as enrollment, verification, ownership transfer, and search of provenance records. While the electronic parts move across the supply chain, smart contracts store the transaction and verification data into the distributed ledger database for establishing supply chain assurance.

FICS-eChain utilizes secure challenge-response protocols, security primitives, chip physical data, markings, and more. The basic research to develop underlying protocols for authenticity and assurance was supported by AFOSR PO Dr. Brett Pokines, Agile Science of Test and Evaluation Program in collaboration with Dr. Jeffery Allen’s research group at Airforce Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate and the 96th Test Wing Eglin Air Force Base. Further, Nimbis Services provided support to develop the eChain infrastructure and its first prototype. This is indeed a testament to great government-industry-academic collaboration that resulted in breakthrough solution to a complex problem. This eChain project is led by Profs. Tehranipoor, Rahman, Farahmandi, and Forte. To learn more, please contact Prof. Tehranipoor at tehranipoor@ufl.edu.