International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Marc Fyrbiak


JustSTART: How to Find an RSA Authentication Bypass on Xilinx UltraScale(+) with Fuzzing
Fuzzing is a well-established technique in the software domain to uncover bugs and vulnerabilities. Yet, applications of fuzzing for security vulnerabilities in hardware systems are scarce, as principal reasons are requirements for design information access, i.e., HDL source code. Moreover, observation of internal hardware state during runtime is typically an ineffective information source, as its documentation is often not publicly available. In addition, such observation during runtime is also inefficient due to bandwidth-limited analysis interfaces, i.e., JTAG, and minimal introspection of hardware-internal modules.In this work, we investigate fuzzing for Xilinx 7-Series and UltraScale(+) FPGA configuration engines, the control plane governing the (secure) bitstream configuration within the FPGA. Our goal is to examine the effectiveness of fuzzing to analyze and document the opaque inner workings of FPGA configuration engines, with a primary emphasis on identifying security vulnerabilities. Using only the publicly available hardware chip and dispersed documentation, we first design and implement ConFuzz, an advanced FPGA configuration engine fuzzing and rapid prototyping framework. Based on our detailed understanding of the bitstream file format, we then systematically define 3 novel key fuzzing strategies for Xilinx FPGA configuration engines. Moreover, our strategies are executed through mutational structure-aware fuzzers and incorporate various novel custom-tailored, FPGA-specific optimizations to reduce search space. Our evaluation reveals previously undocumented behavior within the configuration engine, including critical findings such as system crashes leading to unresponsive states of the whole FPGA. In addition, our investigations not only lead to the rediscovery of the recent starbleed attack but also uncover a novel unpatchable vulnerability, denoted as JustSTART (CVE-2023-20570), capable of circumventing RSA authentication for Xilinx UltraScale(+). Note that we also discuss effective countermeasures by secure FPGA settings to prevent aforementioned attacks.
LifeLine for FPGA Protection: Obfuscated Cryptography for Real-World Security 📺
Over the last decade attacks have repetitively demonstrated that bitstream protection for SRAM-based FPGAs is a persistent problem without a satisfying solution in practice. Hence, real-world hardware designs are prone to intellectual property infringement and malicious manipulation as they are not adequately protected against reverse-engineering.In this work, we first review state-of-the-art solutions from industry and academia and demonstrate their ineffectiveness with respect to reverse-engineering and design manipulation. We then describe the design and implementation of novel hardware obfuscation primitives based on the intrinsic structure of FPGAs. Based on our primitives, we design and implement LifeLine, a hardware design protection mechanism for FPGAs using hardware/software co-obfuscated cryptography. We show that LifeLine offers effective protection for a real-world adversary model, requires minimal integration effort for hardware designers, and retrofits to already deployed (and so far vulnerable) systems.
On the Difficulty of FSM-based Hardware Obfuscation
In today’s Integrated Circuit (IC) production chains, a designer’s valuable Intellectual Property (IP) is transparent to diverse stakeholders and thus inevitably prone to piracy. To protect against this threat, numerous defenses based on the obfuscation of a circuit’s control path, i.e. Finite State Machine (FSM), have been proposed and are commonly believed to be secure. However, the security of these sequential obfuscation schemes is doubtful since realistic capabilities of reverse engineering and subsequent manipulation are commonly neglected in the security analysis. The contribution of our work is threefold: First, we demonstrate how high-level control path information can be automatically extracted from third-party, gate-level netlists. To this end, we extend state-of-the-art reverse engineering algorithms to deal with Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) gate-level netlists equipped with FSM obfuscation. Second, on the basis of realistic reverse engineering capabilities we carefully review the security of state-of-the-art FSM obfuscation schemes. We reveal several generic strategies that bypass allegedly secure FSM obfuscation schemes and we practically demonstrate our attacks for a several of hardware designs, including cryptographic IP cores. Third, we present the design and implementation of Hardware Nanomites, a novel obfuscation scheme based on partial dynamic reconfiguration that generically mitigates existing algorithmic reverse engineering.