Researchers develop an algorithm that defends against side-channel attacks on hardware
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati developed an algorithm that safeguards hardware from attacks to steal data. In these attacks, hackers detect variations of power and electromagnetic radiation in electronic devices’ hardware and then use that variation to steal encrypted information.
The UC researchers recently published their work in the Institute of Engineering and Technology Journal.
The findings shape the future of hardware security in innovative and impactful ways, staples of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Electronic devices are more secure than ever before. Devices that used to rely on passwords now use Touch ID, or even face-recognition software. Unlocking our phones is like entering a 21st century Batcave, with high-tech security measures guarding every entry.
But protecting software is only one part of electronic security. Hardware is also susceptible to attacks.
“In general, we believe that because we write secure software, we can secure everything,” said University of Wyoming assistant professor Mike Borowczak, Ph.D., who graduated from UC. He and his advisor, UC professor Ranga Vemuri, Ph.D., led the project.
“Regardless of how secure you make your software, if your hardware leaks information, you can basically bypass all those security mechanisms,” Borowczak said.
Devices such as remote car keys, cable boxes and even credit card chips are all vulnerable to hardware attacks, mostly because of their design. These devices are small and lightweight and typically operate on minimal power. Engineers optimize designs, so the devices can work within these low-power constraints.
“The problem is if you try to absolutely minimize all the time, you’re basically selectively optimizing,” said Borowczak. “You’re optimizing for speed, power, area and cost, but you’re taking a hit on security.”
Regardless of how secure you make your software, if your hardware leaks information, you can basically bypass all those security mechanisms.
Mike Borowczak,University of Wyoming assistant professor, former UC Ph.D. student
Here’s how a device becomes vulnerable to attacks: When something like a cable box turns on, it decodes and encodes specific manufacturer information tied to its security. This decoding and encoding process draws more power and emits more electromagnetic radiation than when all of the other functions are on. Over time, these variations in power and radiation create a pattern unique to that cable box, and that unique signature is exactly what hackers are looking for.
“If you could steal information from something like a DVR early on, you could basically use it to reverse engineer and figure out how the decryption was happening,” Borowczak said.
And hackers don’t need physical access to a device to take this information. Attackers can remotely detect frequencies in car keys and break into a car from more than 100 yards away.
We’ve basically equalized the amount of power consumed across all the cycles, whereby even if attackers have power measurements, they can’t do anything with that information.
Ranga Vemuri,UC professor
To secure the hardware in these devices, Vemuri and Borowczak went back to square one: the device’s design.
Borowczak and Vemuri aim to restructure their design and code them in a way that doesn’t leak information. To do this, they developed an algorithm to design more secure hardware.
“You take the design specification and restructure it at an algorithmic level, so that the algorithm, no matter how it is implemented, draws the same amount of power in every cycle,” Vemuri said. “We’ve basically equalized the amount of power consumed across all the cycles, whereby even if attackers have power measurements, they can’t do anything with that information.”
What’s left is a more secure device with a more automated design. Rather than manually securing each hardware component, the algorithm automates the process. On top of that, a device created using this algorithm only uses about 5 percent more power than an insecure device, making the work commercially viable.
Software and hardware security is an ongoing game of cat and mouse: As security technologies improve, hackers eventually find ways around these barriers. Hardware security is further complicated by the expanding network of devices and their interactivity, also known as the Internet of Things.
Innovative research, like the work by Vemuri and Borowczak, can give people an extra layer of safety and security in this future of connected devices.
The Latest on: Hardware security
via Google News
The Latest on: Hardware security
- Three Recent IoT Platforms That Show Smart Home Security Isn’t Just a Software Problemon January 22, 2020 at 7:38 pm
some developers have taken extra precautions to bake security into IoT components at the silicon level. Here are a few semiconductor companies that have recently released components with hardware ...
- Purdue researchers develop edible security tag for pharmaceuticalson January 17, 2020 at 9:17 am
To prevent counterfeiting, the Purdue team is using encryption technology originally designed for information and hardware security to give individual prescription drug tablets and capsules their own ...
- Mercury Adopts Tortuga's Security Solutions for DARPA Programon January 17, 2020 at 8:34 am
Guaranteed Architecture for Physical Security (GAPS) program. Notably, the GAPS program aims to create hardware security and software architectures, and reduce system complexity. Radix-S identifies ...
- A Steak War Sizzling in Hardware Security Module (HSM) Market, Latest Study Revealedon January 16, 2020 at 12:21 pm
HTF Market Intelligence added research publication document on Global Hardware Security Module (HSM) Market breaking major business segments and highlighting wider level geographies to get deep dive ...
- Hardware Security Modules And Cyber Security Iot Market Size, Outlook on Key Growth Trends, Factors and Forecast to 2026on January 16, 2020 at 10:02 am
New Jersey, United States, - The report is a brilliant presentation of critical dynamics, regional growth, competition, and other important aspects of the Hardware Security Modules And Cyber Security ...
- A case for establishing a common weakness enumeration for hardware securityon January 13, 2020 at 12:51 am
As a response, the industry has been working to deliver microarchitectural improvements and today, implementing hardware-based security is widely recognized as a best practice. However, hardware-based ...
- Hardware Security Modules Marketon January 7, 2020 at 2:18 am
A recent market study throws light on some of the leading factors that are likely to influence the growth of the Hardware Security Modules market in the upcoming decade. The well-researched market ...
- hardware security breacheson January 5, 2020 at 4:00 pm
More than 300 teams from 55 countries and territories took part in the first round of global cyber-security competition Whitehat Grand Prix 06 in Hanoi on January 4.
- Hardware Security Module (HSM) Market Technology Growth and Development 2019 to 2025on January 5, 2020 at 4:00 pm
The report provides a comprehensive Hardware Security Module (HSM) Market analysis and forecast along with the recent trends influencing the Hardware Security Module (HSM) Market. While ...
- Building A Hardware Security Moduleon January 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm
In the security world, storing passwords in plain text is considered a very bad thing. but luckily there are ways around it. [Stefan]’s solution was to make a hardware security module out of the ...
via Bing News