Hardware trojans (HT) impact our everyday life and may even cause life threatening situations. Unlike other errors and malfunctions, Trojans are inserted deliberately. Apart from insider attacks, the economically driven outsourcing of production steps to third party contractors enlarges the attack surface dramatically. Ideally, any undesired modification made to an IC should be detectable by presilicon verification/simulation and post-silicon testing.
However, pre-silicon verification or simulation requires a golden model of the entire IC. This might not be always available, especially for IP based designs where IPs can come from third-party vendors. Besides, a large multi-module design is usually not amenable to exhaustive verification. Post-silicon, the design can be verified either through destructive de-packaging and reverse-engineering of the IC, or by comparing its functionality or circuit characteristics with a golden version of the IC. However, existing state of the-art approaches do not allow destructive verification of ICs to be scalable. Traditional postmanufacturing logic testing is not suitable for detecting hardware Trojans.
The implementation of the methods for Trojan detection inherently imposes a trade-off between the desired detection effectiveness and the price designers can afford. Therefore, the trojan detection cost is a combination of the required area, and test duration and set-up charge overhead.
The search for alternatives to mitigate this cost is the main challenge in HT detection techniques. Today, there is no single tool that can provide a holistic approach for hardware trojan detection covering both pre-silicon verification and post-silicon testing. HERO takes a significant step forward by developing an artificial intelligence empowered multi-stage approach that will be capable of identifying vulnerable regions in IC designs as well as perform post-silicon validation through a combination of logic and side channel test approaches to cover Trojans of different types and sizes under large parameter variations. The deployment of HERO technology is expected to bring a breakthrough in numerous IC-related sectors including cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, microelectromechanical systems (DLP projectors, inkjet printers, and accelerometers and MEMS gyroscopes), photonics, and sensor applications in medical implants or other bioelectronic devices.