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Winning the 'Race to the Bottom' by Changing the Rules: Inhibiting Malicious…

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2012 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Galois, Inc.
421 SW Sixth Suite 300 Portland, OR 97204-
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2012
Title: Winning the 'Race to the Bottom' by Changing the Rules: Inhibiting Malicious Hardware Activation through Attack Incompatibility
Agency: DOD
Contract: FA8650-12-C-1383
Award Amount: $993,950.00


Many hardware trojans depend on (a) the ability of an attacker to have an accurate model of the target system and of key software used on that system and (b) identification of one or more deterministic trigger conditions with low observability (i.e., conditions that evade detection by traditional scan- or ATPG-based testing methodologies but that can be exercised on demand via external stimuli). We call this class of trojans deterministic, externally-triggered (DET) trojans. This work introduces a class of software-based general purpose countermeasures to the DET class of trojans. We propose a tool by which the software engineer can transform the source code of system and application software to automatically obfuscate communication channels. The tool takes as input two things: (a) the source code of communicating software components, and (b) a specification of obfuscating transformations on the communications; from these the tool automatically generates the source code transformed with the obfuscations. The resulting system does not adhere to the behavioral model assumed when building the trojan. Thus an adversary's assault is rendered less effective via"attack incompatibility": trigger conditions have been altered such that the malicious behavior cannot be reliably instigated.

Principal Investigator:

Mark Tullsen
Principal Investigator
(503) 808-7159

Business Contact:

Jodee LeRoux
(503) 808-7209
Small Business Information at Submission:

Galois, Inc.
421 SW Sixth Suite 300 Portland, OR -

EIN/Tax ID: 931278540
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No