Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Koushik Chakraborty


Koushik Chakraborty


Sanghamitra Roy


Todd Moon


Zhen Zhang


Paul Barr


Design of computing systems — from pocket-sized smart phones to massive cloud based data-centers — have one common daunting challenge : minimizing the power consumption. In this effort, power management sector is undergoing a rapid and profound transformation to promote clean and energy proportional computing. At the hardware end of system design, there is proliferation of specialized, feature rich and complex power management hardware components. Similarly, in the software design layer complex power management suites are growing rapidly. Concurrent to this development, there has been an upsurge in the integration of third-party components to counter the pressures of shorter time-to-market. These trends collectively raise serious concerns about trust and security of power management solutions.

In recent times, problems such as overheating, performance degradation and poor battery life, have dogged the mobile devices market, including the infamous recall of Samsung Note 7. Power outage in the data-center of a major airline left innumerable passengers stranded, with thousands of canceled flights costing over 100 million dollars. This research examines whether such events of unintentional reliability failure, can be replicated using targeted attacks by exploiting the security loopholes in the complex power management infrastructure of a computing system.

At its core, this research answers an imminent research question: How can system designers ensure secure and reliable operation of third-party power management units? Specifically, this work investigates possible attack vectors, and novel non-invasive detection and defense mechanisms to safeguard system against malicious power attacks. By a joint exploration of the threat model and techniques to seamlessly detect and protect against power attacks, this project can have a lasting impact, by enabling the design of secure and cost-effective next generation hardware platforms.