DNA technology secures microchips, blocks counterfeit items

DNA authentication can assure the origins and accurate destination of valuable electronics and other items.

The Defense Logistics Agency is working the private industry to use DNA technology as a method of verifying the authenticity of microchips and other electronics and supply chain items.

The origin, destination and contents of items such as microchips, gaskets, air filters, computers, engine parts, liquid silicone and other things can be scientifically verified using sealant material integrated with DNA information.

DNA identification, emerging from rapid innovation agreements between Applied DNA Sciences and DOD, can be used to secure millions of different items often transited by DLA. The Pentagon has been working with the firm on research and development efforts related to this since 2010.

The verification process began with securing specific types of microchips and has now migrated to a wider swath of items and materials, developers explained.  

“We are broadening everything we are doing to introduce DNA into all of these other types of commodities,” Janice Meraglia, vice president, government and military programs, Applied DNA Sciences, told Defense Systems in an interview.

“When DNA is introduced into or onto an item, identity is established and it can be independently verified. It establishes traceability and requires very little real estate,” she added.

In addition to key tasks such as securing microchips needed to fly fighter jets and guide missiles, DNA technology can now be integrated into items as large as five-feet wide, Meraglia said.

A key part of this concept hinges upon the recognition that cyber security operations involve both software and hardware tactics.

In recent years, Applied DNA Sciences has been working on several contracts with DLA.

The purpose of this effort is, at least in part, aimed at catching and thwarting counterfeit parts from being built into U.S. military products. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., among other members of Congress, has raised concerns that Chinese electronics have been woven into some commercial and military technologies.

Reports by the Fiscal Times, BBC and ABC news have all stated that U.S. military equipment, including weapons and surveillance aircraft such as the Air Force Global Hawk, are being engineered with Chinese-made counterfeit parts.

“Counterfeiters have gotten good at what they do,” Mergalia added.

This DNA verification technique, however, is expected to be effective in thwarting these counterfeit attempts and increase security. In addition, Congress and DoD have been working together to counter these Chinese efforts as well.

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