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High-Performance Software Protection Using Reconfigurable Architectures

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5 Author(s)
Zambreno, J. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL, USA ; Honbo, D. ; Choudhary, A. ; Simha, R.
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One of the key problems facing the computer industry today is ensuring the integrity of end-user applications and data. Researchers in the relatively new field of software protection investigate the development and evaluation of controls that prevent the unauthorized modification or use of system software. While many previously developed protection schemes have provided a strong level of security, their overall effectiveness has been hindered by a lack of transparency to the user in terms of performance overhead. Other approaches take to the opposite extreme and sacrifice security for the sake of this transparency. In this work we present an architecture for software protection that provides for a high level of both security and user transparency by utilizing field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology as the main protection mechanism. We demonstrate that by relying on FPGA technology, this approach can accelerate the execution of programs in a cryptographic environment, while maintaining the flexibility through reprogramming to carry out any compiler-driven protections that may be application-specific.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:94 ,  Issue: 2 )