Researchers have shown that it is possible to compromise the functioning of a cryptographic chip without changing its physical layout.
Based on altering the distribution of dopants in a few components on the chip during fabrication, this method represents a big challenge for cyber-security as it is nearly impossible to detect with any currently practical detection scheme.
Progress in the design and fabrication of processor chips is mainly aimed at making them faster and smaller. There is another important requirement, however – ensuring that they function as intended. In particular, the cryptographic functions of new chips must provide the level of security with which they were designed. If they fail in this task, even use of sophisticated security software, physical isolation, and well vetted operators cannot ensure the security of a system.
Such structural attacks on the functions of a chip are called hardware Trojans, and are capable of rendering ineffective the security protecting our most critical computer systems and data. Both industry and governments have put a great deal of not very public effort into the problem of hardware Trojans. The most reliable tests to find hardware Trojans will be applied to the finished product. So how are they tested and what are the implications of the new research?
Functional testing is the sort of testing with which most people are familiar. The function of a chip is tested by applying patterns of test inputs to the input pins of the chip. The outputs are monitored, and compared with the outputs expected from the original specifications and definition of the chip.
Extremely sophisticated devices for functional testing abound in the world of IC design and fabrication. Unfortunately, such testing is usually not very effective for finding hardware Trojans. It is impossible in any practical sense to test all patterns of activation of all components in the chip, so the test patterns are usually designed to test all the known gates on the chip. While such patterns catch most accidental design flaws and fabrication defects, they are likely to fail to activate malicious logic elements added to the original design.
The most direct approach to find hardware Trojans is to disassemble the chip layer by layer, and compare it with the correct structural design. If there is a visible difference (possibly detected with scanning electron microscopy rather than a camera) between the layers of the chip as designed and the layers of the actual chip, there is a problem that needs to be diagnosed. This is essentially the procedure that would be undertaken to reverse-engineer a chip.
While reverse-engineering a chip sounds like a good way to detect hardware alterations, the problem is considerably more slippery when the goal is to find hardware Trojans. When reverse-engineering is the goal, you start with your competitor’s chip, and try to decipher and duplicate the chip. While various techniques can be applied to the chip to complicate this process, you are never in any doubt that the original chip works properly.
If a production chip is suspected of harboring hardware Trojans, however, the structure revealed in the disassembly process must be compared with some reference design. The ideal reference is a “golden chip”, meaning a chip known to accurately reflect the goals of the desired chip functionality with no additions, subtractions, or alterations. We’ll talk about where such a chip might come from later.
The Latest Bing News on:
- With Caleb Williams set to skip the Holiday Bowl, what’s next for USC?on December 4, 2023 at 8:48 pm
USC football coach Lincoln Riley told media on Monday morning that Williams wouldn’t play in USC’s Holiday Bowl matchup with Louisville on Dec. 27, a likely nod to Williams electing to bubble-wrap ...
- USC bowl game: Trojans holiday plans and scenario updateson December 2, 2023 at 12:11 pm
In their final Pac-12 season for the foreseeable future, the USC Trojans finished the 2023 regular season 7-5. Coach Lincoln Riley's second season at the helm saw some regression and his worst ...
- Trojans take perfect record into provincial finalon November 30, 2023 at 2:39 am
Cancel anytime. The Vincent Massey Trojans had been an unbeatable force all season and that trend continued Thursday night. Fuelled by an 11-kill performance from right side Owen Weekes ...
- Daily Trojan Magazineon November 29, 2023 at 3:59 pm
- Hardware newson November 29, 2023 at 3:59 pm
Daily science news on research developments and the latest scientific innovations Science X Daily and the Weekly Email Newsletter are free features that allow you to receive your favorite sci-tech ...
- Trojans to try for five Thursdayon November 29, 2023 at 7:16 am
The Trojans (12-0), winners of 62 games in a row and four consecutive state championships, will look to complete their drive for five straight titles when they square off against the Valwood ...
- Your Ultimate Guide For Installing New Cabinet Hardwareon November 28, 2023 at 2:00 am
We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Home. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. For new bath or kitchen cabinets or to refresh old cabinets, it’s ...
- Oklahoma Stays Perfect, Upsets No. 23 USC in Rady Children's Invitational Championshipon November 23, 2023 at 4:01 pm
In a high-paced track meet, the Sooners (6-0) raced towards the finish line knocking off the No. 23 USC Trojans (4-2) 72-70 and took home hardware in the Rady Children’s Invitational. Oklahoma needed ...
- Hardware Reviewson November 23, 2023 at 4:01 pm
Our UGREEN 25000mAh Power Bank looks at a portable power bank with three outputs, fast 100W charging, and an LED display to easily see how much juice is left in it.
- What is a Trojan virus? How to avoid it?on November 14, 2023 at 4:00 pm
Trojan viruses (also known as Trojan horse virus) are a common kind of malicious program. By pretending to be a legitimate program or file, they malicious code is easy to install unknowingly. While ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Hardware Trojans” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
The Latest Bing News on:
- Safeguarding semiconductor IoT security with post-quantum cryptography: Q&A with Crypto Quantique CEO Shahram Mossayebion December 5, 2023 at 7:26 pm
The global trend of cybersecurity legislation development, with the European Union's Cyber Resilience Act (CRA) slated for enforcement in 2024, will impact the IoT ecosystem and require companies to ...
- IBM’s Quantum Processor and Modular Computer Are Now in Operationon December 5, 2023 at 5:34 pm
The IBM Quantum System Two with IBM Quantum Heron processors is designed to push quantum-centric supercomputing forward.
- NSTC lists 22 technologies key to securityon December 5, 2023 at 8:00 am
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) yesterday released a list of 22 technologies it considers crucial to the nation’s security and competitiveness, including the 14-nanometer ...
- Rambus protects data centre infrastructure with quantum safe engine IPon December 5, 2023 at 1:27 am
Rambus, the chip and silicon IP provider, has announced the availability of a Quantum Safe Engine (QSE) for integration into hardware security elements in ASICs, SoCs and FPGAs.
- Rambus Protects Data Center Infrastructure with Quantum Safe Engine IPon December 4, 2023 at 2:00 pm
Rambus announced the availability of a Quantum Safe Engine (QSE) for integration into hardware security elements in ASICs, SoCs and FPGAs.
- What are Cryptographic Hash Functions?on December 1, 2023 at 3:55 am
The most secure type of hashing uses an algorithm called a cryptographic hash function. A cryptographic hash function is a mathematical algorithm that takes a data input, often referred to as a ...
- Chip Industry Week In Reviewon December 1, 2023 at 12:01 am
Amkor to invest $2B in Arizona packaging/test plant; Synopsys to add GenAI across full stack; fast-tracking U.S. chip patents; AMD's Indian 3D-IC design center; EV issues; digital payment ring.
- Cryptographic IP Listingon November 14, 2023 at 4:00 pm
TESIC is a CC EAL5+ PP0084 & PP0117 proven/certification-ready secure element IP that is delivered as hard macro for plug-and-play System-on Chip (SoC) integration Rambus DPA & Fault Injection ...
- In a first, cryptographic keys protecting SSH connections stolen in new attackon November 12, 2023 at 8:30 pm
For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that a large portion of cryptographic keys used to protect data in computer-to-server SSH traffic are vulnerable to complete compromise when ...
- What is 'Cryptography'on November 8, 2023 at 4:02 am
Definition: Cryptography is associated with the process of converting ordinary plain text into unintelligible text and vice-versa. It is a method of storing and transmitting data in a particular form ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”cryptographic chip” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]