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Provably Secure Active IC Metering Techniques for Piracy Avoidance and Digital Rights Management

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1 Author(s)
Koushanfar, F. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Rice Univ., Houston, TX, USA

In the horizontal semiconductor business model where the designer's intellectual property (IP) is transparent to foundry and to other entities on the production chain, integrated circuits (ICs) overbuilding and IP piracy are prevalent problems. Active metering is a suite of methods enabling the designers to control their chips postfabrication. We provide a comprehensive description of the first known active hardware metering method and introduce new formal security proofs. The active metering method uniquely and automatically locks each IC upon manufacturing, such that the IP rights owner is the only entity that can provide the specific key to unlock or otherwise control each chip. The IC control mechanism exploits: 1) the functional description of the design, and 2) unique and unclonable IC identifiers. The locks are embedded by modifying the structure of the hardware computation model, in the form of a finite state machine (FSM). We show that for each IC hiding the locking states within the modified FSM structure can be constructed as an instance of a general output multipoint function that can be provably efficiently obfuscated. The hidden locks within the FSM may also be used for remote enabling and disabling of chips by the IP rights owner during the IC's normal operation. An automatic synthesis method for low overhead hardware implementation is devised. Attacks and countermeasures are addressed. Experimental evaluations demonstrate the low overhead of the method. Proof-of-concept implementation on the H.264 MPEG decoder automatically synthesized on a Xilinix Virtex-5 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) further shows the practicality, security, and the low overhead of the new method.

Published in:

Information Forensics and Security, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 1 )