Counterfeit electronic components on the rise

Reports of counterfeit components making their way into electronic equipment are on the rise, creating significant risk of costly – even potentially lethal – malfunction.

Research into the proliferation of counterfeit components reaching the US has shown an increasingly problem with more and more fake components being flagged in the supply chain.

According to IHS,  the number of knock off goods is on the increase, in 2011 there were 1,363 verified reports of counterfeit parts, up from 324 in 2009.  Over the past decade this has increased massively by around a factor of 700.

While the number of reports may not immediately sound like much, it is the case that each report could contain thousands of dodgy parts.  This means that there have likely been over a million fake components which have been found just in the last year, leaving the worrying thought that there may be many more which have gone undetected.

President Obama may have signed legislation at the tail end of last year which aims for greater regulations for counterfeit part detection, but it is appears the problem is rife.

And as anyone who has bought goods from a wannabe Del Boy, counterfeit goods are often shoddy at best, and in many cases outright dangerous.   Considering that many applications that the counterfeit component are destined for – from military applications to aerospace applications or consumer electronics – faulty goods could prove hugely damaging, and not just to the companies which have to replace them.

Apparently the US Missile Defense Agency realised that one of its computers had used some phony circuit components, leaving it with a bill for $2.7 million to fix it.

As well as posing potential physical safety threat, the IHS iSuppli report claims that counterfeit integrated circuits could potentially be used as malicious Trojans that can be disabled remotely to attack military defence equipment.

With a global supply chain and the sheer number of components being shipped around the world it seems there are inherent difficulties in detecting faulty goods – though we guess the ‘Trotters Independent Traders’ logo might be a give-away.

New regulations have demanded that contractors will have to be eagle-eyed in picking out and knock off components, with greater responsibility for their removal from the supply chain as well as over using reliable suppliers.