Securing computer hardware using 3D integrated circuit (IC) technology and split manufacturing for obfuscation

Frank Imeson, Ariq Emtenan, Siddharth Garg, Mahesh V. Tripunitara

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


The fabrication of digital Integrated Circuits (ICs) is increasingly outsourced. Given this trend, security is recognized as an important issue. The threat agent is an attacker at the IC foundry that has information about the circuit and inserts covert, malicious circuitry. The use of 3D IC technology has been suggested as a possible technique to counter this threat. However, to our knowledge, there is no prior work on how such technology can be used effectively. We propose a way to use 3D IC technology for security in this context. Specifically, we obfuscate the circuit by lifting wires to a trusted tier, which is fabricated separately. This is referred to as split manufacturing. For this setting, we provide a precise notion of security, that we call k-security, and a characterization of the underlying computational problems and their complexity. We further propose a concrete approach for identifying sets of wires to be lifted, and the corresponding security they provide. We conclude with a comprehensive empirical assessment with benchmark circuits that highlights the security versus cost trade-offs introduced by 3D IC based circuit obfuscation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd USENIX Security Symposium
PublisherUSENIX Association
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781931971034
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Event22nd USENIX Security Symposium - Washington, United States
Duration: Aug 14 2013Aug 16 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 22nd USENIX Security Symposium


Conference22nd USENIX Security Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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