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A Red Team/Blue Team Assessment of Functional Analysis Methods for Malicious Circuit Identification

Waksman, Adam; Rajendran, Jeyavijayan; Suozzo, Matthew Robert; Sethumadhavan, Simha

Recent advances in hardware security have led to the development of FANCI (Functional Analysis for Nearly-Unused Circuit Identification), an analysis tool that identifies stealthy, malicious circuits within hardware designs that can perform malicious backdoor behavior. Evaluations of such tools against benchmarks and academic attacks are not always equivalent to the dynamic attack scenarios that can arise in the real world. For this reason, we apply a red team/blue team approach to stress-test FANCI's abilities to efficiently detect malicious backdoor circuits within hardware designs. In the Embedded Systems Challenge (ESC) 2013, teams from research groups from multiple continents created designs with malicious backdoors hidden in them as part of a red team effort to circumvent FANCI. Notably, these backdoors were not placed into a priori known designs. The red team was allowed to create arbitrary, unspecified designs. Two interesting results came out of this effort. The first was that FANCI was surprisingly resilient to this wide variety of attacks and was not circumvented by any of the stealthy backdoors created by the red teams. The second result is that frequent-action backdoors, which are backdoors that are not made stealthy, were often successful. These results emphasize the importance of combining FANCI with a reasonable degree of validation testing. The blue team efforts also exposed some aspects of the FANCI prototype that make analysis time-consuming in some cases, which motivates further development of the prototype in the future.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-005-14
Published Here
June 17, 2014