The global chip shortage is creating a new problem: More fake components
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, in effect, electronic device makers have come under the pressure of unprecedented demand from consumers. With companies and individuals alike rushing to purchase PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, manufacturers have suddenly found themselves needing vast amounts of semiconductors – the tiny components that constitute the "brain" of most electronics, and which are produced in most cases by third-party companies called foundries.
But foundries are currently unable to produce chips fast enough to cope with the surge in demand that is looking unlikely to calm down. Gartner estimates that the semiconductor shortage will last well into 2022, and has warned equipment manufacturers that wafer orders could come with up to 12 months of lead time in the coming months.
For some companies, this will mean finding an alternative way of stocking up on chips or shutting down production lines. In other words, the current times are opening up a golden opportunity for electronic component counterfeiters and fraudsters to step in.
The problem, of course, is unlikely to affect tech giants whose reliance on semiconductors is such that they have implemented robust supply chains, and will typically only purchase components directly from chip manufacturers. Those at risk rather include low-volume manufacturers whose supply chain for semiconductors is less established – but it could include companies in sectors that are as critical as defense, healthcare and even automotive.
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