Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Ryan Gerdes


Ryan Gerdes


Koushik Chakraborty


Sanghamitra Roy


Rose Hu


Curtis Dyreson


Microcontrollers and integrated circuits in general have become ubiquitous in the world today. All aspects of our lives depend on them from driving to work, to calling our friends, to checking our bank account balance. People who would do harm to individuals, corporations and nation states are aware of this and for that reason they seek to find or create and exploit vulnerabilities in integrated circuits. This dissertation contains three papers dealing with these types of vulnerabilities. The first paper talks about a vulnerability that was found on a microcontroller, which is a type of integrated circuit. The final two papers deal with hardware trojans. Hardware trojans are purposely added to the design of an integrated circuit in secret so that the manufacturer doesn’t know about it. They are used to damage the integrated circuit, leak confidential information, or in other ways alter the circuit. Hardware trojans are a major concern for anyone using integrated circuits because an attacker can alter a circuit in almost any way if they are successful in inserting one. A known method to prevent hardware trojan insertion is discussed and a type of circuit for which this method does not work is revealed. The discussion of hardware trojans is concluded with a new way to detect them before the integrated circuit is manufactured. Modern deep learning models are used to detect the portions of the hardware trojan called triggers that activate them.