Emerging (Un-)Reliability Based Security Threats and Mitigations for Embedded Systems

H. Amrouch, P. Krishnamurthy, N. Patel, J. Henkel, R. Karri, F. Khorrami

Published in CASES 2017 - October 2017

Links: CASES 2017 page, CASES 2017 pdf, bibtex


This paper addresses two reliability-based security threats and mitigations for embedded systems namely, aging and thermal side channels. Device aging can be used as a hardware attack vector by using voltage scaling or specially crafted instruction sequences to violate embedded processor guard bands. Short-term aging effects can be utilized to cause transient degradation of the embedded device without leaving any trace of the attack. (thermal) side channels can be used as an attack vector and as a defense. Specifically, thermal side channels are an effective and secure way to remotely monitor code execution on an embedded processor and/or to possibly leak information. Although various algorithmic means to detect anomaly are available, machine learning tools are effective for anomaly detection. We will show such utilization of deep learning networks in conjunction with thermal side channels to detect code injection/modification representing anomaly.

Thermal Monitoring Setup and Examples of Thermal images of an Intel 8-core chip

Thermal Monitoring Setup

Proposed Machine learning based methodology to estimate the CPS device computational activity time and for anomaly detection from a sequence of thermal heat maps.

Anomaly Monitoring Framework


author    = {Hussam Amrouch and
             Prashanth Krishnamurthy and
             Naman Patel and
             J{\"{o}}rg Henkel and
             Ramesh Karri and
             Farshad Khorrami},
title     = {Emerging (un-)reliability based security threats and mitigations for
           embedded systems: special session},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2017 International Conference on Compilers, Architectures and Synthesis for Embedded Systems, {CASES}},
address = {Seoul, Republic of Korea},
month   = {October},
pages     = {17:1--17:10},
year      = {2017},