Visible to the public On-chip Data Security Against Untrustworthy Software and Hardware IPs in Embedded Systems

TitleOn-chip Data Security Against Untrustworthy Software and Hardware IPs in Embedded Systems
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGundabolu, S., Wang, X.
Conference Name2018 IEEE Computer Society Annual Symposium on VLSI (ISVLSI)
Keywords3PIP, composability, cryptography, dual-core ARM processor, Embedded systems, field programmable gate arrays, FPGA-based embedded systems, golden reference model, Hardware, hierarchical top-down structure, implementation, Intel DE1-SoC board, IP networks, low-latency hardware, memory access, memory protection design, memory protection unit, memory security, Metrics, microprocessor chips, on-chip memory blocks, pubcrawl, reconfigurable logic fabric, Resiliency, security, security of data, security services, SoC FPGA, software IP, static detection methods, system-on-chip, third-party IP cores, third-party IPs

State-of-the-art system-on-chip (SoC) field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) integrate hard powerful ARM processor cores and the reconfigurable logic fabric on a single chip in addition to many commonly needed high performance and high-bandwidth peripherals. The increasing reliance on untrustworthy third-party IP (3PIP) cores, including both hardware and software in FPGA-based embedded systems has made the latter increasingly vulnerable to security attacks. Detection of trojans in 3PIPs is extremely difficult to current static detection methods since there is no golden reference model for 3PIPs. Moreover, many FPGA-based embedded systems do not have the support of security services typically found in operating systems. In this paper, we present our run-time, low-cost, and low-latency hardware and software based solution for protecting data stored in on-chip memory blocks, which has attracted little research attention. The implemented memory protection design consists of a hierarchical top-down structure and controls memory access from software IPs running on the processor and hardware IPs running in the FPGA, based on a set of rules or access rights configurable at run time. Additionally, virtual addressing and encryption of data for each memory help protect confidentiality of data in case of a failure of the memory protection unit, making it hard for the attacker to gain access to the data stored in the memory. The design is implemented and tested on the Intel (Altera) DE1-SoC board featuring a SoC FPGA that integrates a dual-core ARM processor with reconfigurable logic and hundreds of memory blocks. The experimental results and case studies show that the protection model is successful in eliminating malicious IPs from the system without need for reconfiguration of the FPGA. It prevents unauthorized accesses from untrusted IPs, while arbitrating access from trusted IPs generating legal memory requests, without incurring a serious area or latency penalty.

Citation Keygundabolu_-chip_2018