Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Past Seminars in 2012

Hardware Security Issues in Implantable Medical Devices

Prof. Wayne Burleson
Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Massachussetts
Thursday, November 1, 2012
4pm @ AK 233

Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs)are increasingly being used to solve a wide variety of medical and research challenges. However, they introduce potential vulnerabilities to adversaries that can result in life threatening situations as well as compromises of privacy. Security solutions are typically heavily layered but ultimately rely on low-level hardware primitives and assumptions. This talk reviews some of the vulnerabilities and solutions at the lower layers that are particularly specific to IMDs. Biosensor data can be encrypted, watermarked and authenticated to thwart some types of attacks. Energy is a critical issue in the design of security in IMDs due to the reliance on remote-powering, energy-harvesting or battery storage solutions. Radio communication is also critical and novel ultra-wideband solutions will be presented.

Dr. Burleson is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he has been since 1990. Dr. Burleson is a Fellow of the IEEE for contributions in integrated circuit design and signal processing. His work has included research, development, teaching and industrial work at a variety of levels including theory, algorithms, architectures, circuits and CAD tools. He received his BSEE and MSEE from MIT in 1983 and his PhD from the University of Colorado, 1989. He has worked as a custom chip designer and consultant in the semiconductor industry. Dr. Burleson was a visiting professor for a year at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris in 1996-97 and with the Laboratoire de Informatique, Robotique et Microelectronique (LIRMM) de Montpellier, France in Fall of 2003 and most recently at EPFL Switzerland. He has published over 160 journal and conference papers in the following areas: VLSI Circuits, VLSI Architecture, Variation-aware design, VLSI for Communications and Digital Signal Processing; Low-Power Design, Embedded Security and RFID Systems. He currently directs a multi-disciplinary research group in the area of Embedded Security with applications in Transportation, Medical Devices and Government.


Side-Channel Attacks on Contactless Smartcards and FPGAs in the Real World

David Oswald
PhD student, Chair for Embedded Security
Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
Thursday, October 18, 2012
12 noon @ AK 218

IT systems have become the basis for a wide range of applications, for example, mobile payment, access control, medical devices, or car control units. To guarantee the security of the often highly sensitive data, (mathematically) secure cryptographic algorithms (e.g., 3DES or AES) are employed. However, the physical implementation of these algorithms can still be vulnerable to so-called implementation attacks. In this talk, we demonstrate that ”side-channel analysis” can be used to circumvent security mechanisms of numerous commercial products. To this end, we present two case studies: first, we show that the 112-bit 3DES key of a Mifare DESFire MF3ICD40 contactless smartcard [1] can be extracted within a few hours using low-cost equipment. In turn, DESFire smartcards – e.g., used for mobile payment or access control – can be read out, duplicated, or manipulated. Second, we present a similar attack on the 3DES- or AES-based bitstream encryption feature of Xilinx FPGAs [2, 3]. In consequence, an adversary is able to recover the unencrypted configuration bitstream and thus, e.g., clone products or steal IP. As a result of our case studies, we point out countermeasures that help to mitigate the impact of implementation attacks for real-world applications.

[1] David Oswald, Christof Paar: Breaking Mifare DESFire MF3ICD40: Power Analysis and Templates in the Real World. CHES 2011

[2] Amir Moradi, Alessandro Barenghi, Timo Kasper, Christof Paar: On the vulnerability of FPGA bitstream encryption against power analysis attacks: extracting keys from xilinx Virtex-II FPGAs. ACM CCS 2011

[3] Amir Moradi, Markus Kasper, Christof Paar: Black-Box Side-Channel Attacks Highlight the Importance of Countermeasures – An Analysis of the Xilinx Virtex-4 and Virtex-5 Bitstream Encryption Mechanism. CT-RSA 2012

Constructive and Destructive Aspects of Embedded Security

Thomas Eisenbarth
Assistant Professor, Center for Computer & Information Security
Florida Atlantic University
Thursday, February 9, 2012
11:00 AM – AK 219


The security of pervasive computing devices relies on cryptographic engines which are usually considered the most trusted part of the system. However, the constrained regime of embedded systems poses difficulties on the designer that are not encountered in classical IT infrastructures. Code size, chip area, and power consumption are usually highly limited. Accordingly, security solutions have to be optimized and tailored to specific application scenarios.

A major threat to embedded cryptographic engines are physical attacks. Practical countermeasures against physical attacks are not completely fail-safe and overly expensive for most applications.

It will be shown how cryptographic solutions are brought into embedded systems, how they can be broken, and how novel methods may make future attacks impossible.