Research Topic: New Directions in Hardware Security through Cognitive Obfuscation [in Research Hub B, RC 4 (Platform Trojans), and Hub D, RC 10 (Engineers and Usability)]
|Funded by||DFG [German Research Foundation]|
|Researchers||Prof. Dr. Nikol Rummel, Carina Wiesen|
|Partners||Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christof Paar (Embedded Security, Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy in Bochum), Steffen Becker (Embedded Security, Ruhr University Bochum)|
In the Cluster of Excellence “CASA – Cyber Security in the Age of Large-Scale Adversaries”, the interdisciplinary research team aims to analyze underlying human factors in Hardware Reverse Engineering (HRE) and to develop novel countermeasures (obfuscation) impeding HRE. HRE is a multilayered process, where human analysts employ sense-making processes and combine various semi-automated technical steps to extract high-level information from a low-level circuit. Those underlying cognitive processes that determine the success of an HRE attack remain poorly understood as only little prior research exists so far. Somewhat surprisingly, existing hardware obfuscation methods are largely based on ad-hoc methods, and do not take cognitive processes of reverse engineers into account, even though they are the main target of the obfuscation methods. In this research project, we strive towards a fundamental understanding of HRE, with the goal of designing cognitively difficult countermeasures (“cognitive obfuscation") that exploit limitations of human reverse engineers.