Counterfeiting In The Automotive Supply Chain

Safety and security are at risk.

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While counterfeiting is not a new problem in the automotive space by any means, the stakes are higher all the time when you consider the increase in more sophisticated electronics and electronic systems being designed into vehicles today. While we don’t want to think about the worst case scenario of a counterfeit airbag in the family minivan or a counterfeit battery in a hybrid vehicle, we must.

The good news is that anti-counterfeiting is close to many company’s hearts that have been working in this space for some time, and are applying current technologies to today’s challenges in the automotive space.

Simon Blake-Wilson, VP of products and marketing at Rambus’ Cryptography Research division said based on its work with technologies to prevent counterfeiting in printer ink cartridges, there are new avenues to explore in automotive. “That is big business in the printer space because it is well known that the printer makers make more money from selling ink from them from selling the printer because there is a lot of cloning.”

He believes as we look to electric cars there is a strong interest in preventing counterfeiting of car batteries. “I think the motivation is partly to say, ‘We make money from selling batteries,’ but more than that from saying the liability issues are very concerning of someone being involved in an accident as the result of there being an illegitimate battery. And the battery could be one that was installed by the carmaker but it happens to have been counterfeit somewhere earlier in the supply chain or it could be an aftermarket battery replacement.”

That’s one example he cited, and from a security perspective the technologies that applied to prevent counterfeiting in that kind of context are very different than the technologies applied elsewhere, but that have use in the automotive space.

Given the strong focus on cybersecurity at next week’s SAE World Congress that I will be attending, these issues among many others will be discussed in an industry setting, with many minds giving input to solutions. It promises to be a fascinating event. Watch for blog updates from the show, along with posts from me on Twitter and LinkedIn.