Title

TITAN: Uncovering the Paradigm Shift in Security Vulnerability at Near-Threshold Computing

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing

Volume

8

Issue

4

Publisher

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Publication Date

10-1-2020

Funder

National Science Foundation

First Page

986

Last Page

997

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the emerging security threats at Near-Threshold Computing (NTC) that are poised to jeopardize the trustworthy operation of future low-power electronic devices. A substantial research effort over the last decade has bolstered energy efficient operation in low-power computing. However, innovation in low-power security has received only marginal attention, thwarting a ubiquitous adoption of critical Internet of Things applications, such as wearable gadgets. Using a cross-layer methodology, we demonstrate that the timing fault vulnerability of a circuit rapidly increases as the operating conditions of the transistor devices shift from super-threshold to near-threshold values. Exploiting this vulnerability, we propose a novel threat model for NTC, referred to as a Timing Fault Attack at NTC (TITAN). TITAN relies on a malicious application software to induce timing fault attacks in the underlying NTC hardware. We evaluate the efficacy of TITAN using real hardware. Additionally, we propose two security parameters that dictate the fault resilience of a system. Based on those parameters, we show a 1.6× and a 2.8× deterioration in the fault resilience of a low-power operation, over a traditional super-threshold operation. Using a GDB driven analysis, we also present different user-level impacts of TITAN, on some real-life applications.

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