Srivastava Wins NSF Award for Integrated Circuit Fabrication Security

Published April 1, 2020

Ankur Srivastava, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Institute for Systems Research(ISR), has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award for improving integrated circuit (IC) fabrication security. 

The three-year award for approximately $500K is part of the Secure and Trusted Cyberspace (SaTC) program. Srivastava, who is also a member of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), is the principal investigator. 

Use of untrusted foundries for IC fabrication has raised piracy and overproduction concerns. Logic/design locking (also known as logic obfuscation) can secure design details from an untrusted fabrication facility by incorporating a locking key that hides the circuit’s functional and structural information.

Srivastava’s project, “A High Level Synthesis Approach to Logic Obfuscation,” will develop a system-level methodology to design locked digital circuits that are rendered useless if the attacker uses any incorrect key and are resilient to state-of-the art attacks such as a satisfiability attack (SAT).

The project will develop several high-level design optimization techniques to open new possibilities of locking design details at the system level. The main optimization goal is corruption of an application for any incorrect key. 

The techniques are designed to automatically inform gate level locking constructions to achieve resiliency against SAT attacks. A few error critical inputs first will be identified at the application level. Then the architecture will be synthesized using appropriate system-level decisions to render the circuit dysfunctional for a wrong input key.

The project repository will be maintained well beyond the duration of the project and for as long as necessary, subject to university archiving guidelines. It will be accessible on Srivastavas’s website