Is Register Transfer Level Locking Secure?

Chandan Karfa, Ramanuj Chouksey, Christian Pilato, Siddharth Garg, Ramesh Karri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Register Transfer Level (RTL) locking seeks to prevent intellectual property (IP) theft of a design by locking the RTL description that functions correctly on the application of a key. This paper evaluates the security of a state-of-the-art RTL locking scheme using a satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) based algorithm to retrieve the secret key. The attack first obtains the high-level behavior of the locked RTL, and then use an SMT based formulation to find so-called distinguishing input patterns (DIP)1 The attack methodology has two main advantages over the gate-level attacks. First, since the attack handles the design at the RTL, the method scales to large designs. Second, the attack does not apply separate unlocking strategies for the combinational and sequential parts of a design; it handles both styles via a unifying abstraction. We demonstrate the attack on locked RTL generated by TAO [1], a state-of-the-art RTL locking solution. Empirical results show that we can partially or completely break designs locked by TAO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2020 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE 2020
EditorsGiorgio Di Natale, Cristiana Bolchini, Elena-Ioana Vatajelu
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages550-555
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9783981926347
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Event2020 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE 2020 - Grenoble, France
Duration: Mar 9 2020Mar 13 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2020 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE 2020

Conference

Conference2020 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE 2020
CountryFrance
CityGrenoble
Period3/9/203/13/20

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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