My name is Osaze Shears and I am a senior Computer Engineering major conducting research in the field of computer hardware security, with a focus on circuit camouflaging and obfuscation. This is my second semester conducting undergraduate research within the Undergraduate Research Scholar’s Program (URSP). This hardware security project has allowed me to build upon my knowledge of computer engineering by introducing me to the concept of integrated circuit (IC) counterfeiting, as well as techniques to prevent this practice. IC counterfeiting is a global issue that has the potential to affect the safety of consumers who utilize these devices. The attackers involved in this practice can alter the functioning of ICs by inserting hardware Trojans, or copy the logic design to generate similar devices for illegal distribution.
The research that I am conducting under the guidance of Dr. Houman Homayoun analyzes how these attackers gain access to IC information through the use of Boolean equation solving programs, or SAT solvers. SAT solvers can be used to realize the identity of individual circuit components that have been disguised within the hardware. Our research studies one approach for determining these component identities in order to guide the development more efficient circuit camouflaging and obfuscation practices. The SAT solver algorithm is being developed in Python and tested with designs from the ISPD98 Circuit Benchmark Suite. By conducting this research, I have learned a great amount about the IC design flow and the trust established between leading IC development companies and the manufacturers who bring these designs to life.