Title: “Detecting Hardware Trojans Hidden in Unspecified Design Functionality”

Speaker: Dr. Nicole Fern, University of California, Santa Barbara

Date and Time: Thursday, November 16th, 2017 at 2:00PM-3:00PM

Location: Donald Bren Hall 3011


Traditional verification methods and metrics attempt to answer the question: does my design correctly perform the intended functionality?  This talk will look at hardware verification from a security perspective, which demands the verification effort answer an additional question: does my design perform malicious functionality in addition to the intended functionality?  The talk will motivate through examples why Hardware Trojans modifying only unspecified design functionality are both powerful and stealthy.  RTL don’t cares and idle cycles in on-chip bus protocols are two examples of unspecified functionality vulnerable to malicious modification that this talk will explore in depth.  This talk will also detail how to formulate the Trojan detection problem as a satisfiability problem in order to leverage existing formal verification tools to highlight Trojans hidden in unspecified functionality.


Nicole Fern received her undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and her PhD degree in the ECE department at UC Santa Barbara under the advisement of Professor Tim Cheng.  She is now a post-doc at UC Santa Barbara.  Her thesis work focused on developing techniques to verify the absence of Hardware Trojans in unspecified design functionality.  Her current research interests include investigating security issues in emerging memory technologies and at the hardware/software boundary.