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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R011494/1
Title: DeepSecurity - Applying Deep Learning to Hardware Security
Principal Investigator: O'Neill, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BAE Systems Cryptography Research Inc
Department: Sch of Electronics, Elec Eng & Comp Sci
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 November 2017 Ends: 31 October 2022 Value (£): 765,827
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Computer Sys. & Architecture
Electronic Devices & Subsys. Fundamentals of Computing
Software Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 May 2017 Research Institute in Hardware Security Interviews- Director Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
With the globalisation of supply chains the design and manufacture of today's electronic devices are now distributed worldwide, for example, through the use of overseas foundries, third party intellectual property (IP) and third party test facilities. Many different untrusted entities may be involved in the design and assembly phases and therefore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure the integrity and authenticity of devices. The supply chain is now considered to be susceptible to a range of hardware-based threats, including hardware Trojans, IP piracy, integrated circuit (IC) overproduction or recycling, reverse engineering, IC cloning and side-channel attacks. These attacks are major security threats to military, medical, government, transportation, and other critical and embedded systems applications. The proposed project will use a common approach to investigate two of these threats, namely the use of deep-learning in the context of side-channel attacks and hardware Trojans.

Side-channel attacks (SCAs) exploit physical signal leakages, such as power consumption, electromagnetic emanations or timing characteristics, from cryptographic implementations, and have become a serious security concern with many practical real-world demonstrations, such as secret key recovery from the Mifare DESFire smart card used in public transport ticketing applications and from encrypted bitstreams on Xilinx Virtex-4/5 FPGAs. A hardware Trojan (HT) is a malicious modification of a circuit in order to control, modify, disable, monitor or affect the operation of the circuit. Although there have been no public reports of HTs detected in practice, in 2008 it was speculated that a critical failure in a Syrian radar may have been intentionally triggered via a hidden 'back door' inside a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microprocessor.

The proposed project seeks to investigate the application of deep learning in SCA and HT detection, with the ultimate goal of utilising deep learning based verification processes in Electronic Design Automation tools to provide feedback to designers on the security of their designs. In relation to the call, the project addresses the challenge of 'maintaining confidence in security through the development process', and more specifically 'building supply chain confidence' and 'novel hardware analysis toolsets and techniques'.

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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk