modeling information flows in hardware designs

Department: Computer Science & Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Ryan Kastner

Primary Student
Name: Armaiti Ardeshiricham
Phone: 858-281-3776
Grad Year: 2019

Emergence of side channel security attacks has challenged the classic assumptions regarding what data is publicly available. As demonstrated repeatedly, statistical analysis of information collected by measuring completion time of hardware designs can reveal confidential information. Even though timing-based side channel leakage can be easily exploited to breach data privacy, conventional hardware verification tools are not yet suited to assess these vulnerabilities. To acquaint the hardware design process with formal security evaluations, we introduce a model for tracking timing-based information flows through HDL codes. Based on this model, we have developed Clepsydra, a tool for automatically generating circuitry for tracking timing flows and generic logical flows within hardware designs in two distinct channels. The circuit generated by Clepsydra can be analyzed by EDA tools to detect timing leakage or formally prove constant execution time. We present proofs regarding soundness and precision of the proposed model along with results of employing Clepsydra to verify security properties on a variety of hardware units including crypto cores, bus architectures, caches and arithmetic modules.

Industry Application Area(s)
Internet, Networking, Systems | Semiconductor | Software, Analytics

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