Programmable Daisychaining of Microelectrodes to Secure Bioassay IP in MEDA Biochips

Tung Che Liang, Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Ramesh Karri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As digital microfluidic biochips (DMFBs) make the transition to the marketplace for commercial exploitation, security and intellectual property (IP) protection are emerging as important design considerations. Recent studies have shown that DMFBs are vulnerable to reverse engineering aimed at stealing biomolecular protocols (IP theft). The IP piracy of proprietary protocols may lead to significant losses for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The microelectrode dot array (MEDA) is a next-generation DMFB platform that supports real-time sensing of droplets and has the added advantage of important security protection. However, real-time sensing offers opportunities to an attacker to steal the biochemical IP. We show that the daisychaining of microelectrodes and the use of one-time programmability in MEDA biochips provides effective bitstream scrambling of biochemical protocols. To examine the strength of this solution, we develop a Satisfiability (SAT)-based attack that can unscramble the bitstreams through repeated observations of bioassays executed on the MEDA platform. Based on insights gained from the SAT attack, we propose an advanced defense against IP theft. Simulation results using real-life biomolecular protocols confirm that while the SAT attack is effective for simple instances, our advanced defense can thwart it for realistic MEDA biochips and real-life protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8998143
Pages (from-to)1269-1282
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Keywords

  • Computer security
  • control systems
  • microfluidics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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