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A measurement-based approach to 5G supply chain security

Summary

Revolutionizing the American economy comes from advancements in communication networks that enable a fully connected world through millions of devices providing on-demand access to data, systems, and each other. We must be able to trust the privacy, security, authenticity, and reliability of these devices, as well as the advanced networks that support them as we continue to realize the full economic potential of real-time access to data and systems.   

Description

A close-up view of a circuit board shows a square with yellow dots surrounded by blue lines.
Credit: Shutterstock

NIST is working with a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders to define both the cybersecurity standards for 5G and beyond hardware and to secure the supply chain through developing technology that can detect corrupted hardware before it is put in use.  For an overview of NIST cybersecurity and privacy activities see Cybersecurity | NIST 

Just as provenance methods and physical measurements (forensic science) are complementary tools for verifying the authenticity of a piece of art, physical measurements can complement a provenance-based framework for supply-chain and cybersecurity. Our NIST team is exploring the use of physical measurements to ensure that the hardware systems are free of counterfeit components with vulnerabilities, or poor quality components, which may cause: data loss, modification or disruption, or unanticipated failures and loss of system availability.

 

The CTL physical measurements team is working to leverage technical expertise and commercial outreach: 

  1. Leveraging NIST expertise in 5G and beyond systems, precision signal measurement, over-the-air test, circuit and material characterization, and statistical analysis to develop measurement-based approaches to ensure supply-chain security for 5G and beyond hardware.  In particular, NIST plans to demonstrate: 
    • The advantage of advanced measurement techniques to discriminate system and circuit behavioral signatures from measurement noise and other sources of error.
    • How NIST traceable calibrations and documented procedures can make measurements reproducible at any facility 
  2. A NIST-sponsored workshop on physical measurements for 5G+ hardware supply chain authentication and security. This workshop will assemble key stakeholders to focus on the following goals: 
    • Capture different stakeholder perspectives on how measurement-based countermeasures might mitigate various threats, vulnerabilities, and risks inherent in complex 5G and beyond hardware, and how measurement-based security procedures might complement or enhance a provenance-based security strategy. 
    • Provide a broad overview of state-of-the-art methods for, and research on, measurements for validating the authenticity of 5G and beyond hardware 
    • Explore how measurements and measurements-based standards can be adopted by industry and government to validate the authenticity of 5G and beyond hardware. 
    • Clarify the barriers to industry and government in the adoption of measurement-based approaches for validating the authenticity of 5G and beyond equipment. 
Created February 25, 2021, Updated April 7, 2021