summerville 2015
Abstract: Covert Hardware Trojan Horses: Implantation and Detection

A new class of Covert Hardware Trojan Horses (Covert HTHs) is presented that can be algorithmically implanted with no change to their host circuit’s functional behavior and without the need for additional unrelated logic. As a result, covert HTHs are invulnerable to functional detection methods.  This work also proposes a formal methodology for implantation of Covert HTHs, which allows covert hardware to be embedded in any sufficiently-sized synchronous circuit. Synthesis results indicate that covert implantation results in nearly a 75% reduction in integrated circuit area used by the HTH. Furthermore, the covert implantation causes no increase in the host circuit’s delay and, compared to the effect of a overtly implanted HTH on its host, the covert implantation results in a significantly lower dynamic and leakage power. The significant reductions in impact in area, delay and power make a covertly implanted HTH highly resistant to existing non-functional detection methods.  A methodology for detection of covertly implanted hardware is discussed, and limits of detection are established.


Douglas H. Summerville is an Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received the B.E. Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1991 from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and the M.S. and the Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1994 and 1997, respectively. He co-authored over 50 scientific publications and authored two textbooks on embedded systems design. He is a senior member of the IEEE and a member of the ASEE. He has received State University of New York Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Faculty Service and in Teaching and the Binghamton University Council/Foundation Award for Service to the University. His research interests include tamper detection and prevention in digital circuits and systems and practical security approaches such as lightweight anomaly detection for embedded systems.  His work has recently been funded by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the NYS Cyber Research Institute.