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The evolving landscape of SoC vulnerabilities and analog threats

SoC attacks call for analog and digital defenses

SoC integrators know that a software-only chip security plan leaves devices open to attack. The more effective way to thwart hackers is to combat both digital and analog threats by incorporating security-focused hardware modules built into the core machine design. This paper describes sources of vulnerabilities to cyber attacks and what infrastructure is needed to secure against them.

The SoC vulnerability landscape

Many SoC integrators are only too aware that security enforced only by software is highly vulnerable to attack. All that a hacker needs to do is find a way to replace key parts of the bootloader or the low-level firmware to compromise other software in the system used to support secure access.

The increasing integration of edge devices into large-scale distributed systems provides motivated groups with an increasingly large attack space. To maximize their potential for success, they will use multiple attack types. Sometimes, this is a matter of trying different approaches until one works. But, thanks to the use of more advanced statistical tools and machine learning, malicious users are combining information from multiple sources to reverse-engineer a target and increase its vulnerability to the final attack. An example of the use of machine learning in attacks is side-channel analysis, an approach that aims to obtain the private keys employed by an embedded cryptocore.

This paper outlines the landscape of security threats to SoCs and where vulnerabilities lay. We describe available countermeasures, including a comprehensive hardware-based cybersecurity infrastructure that combines the Tessent Embedded Analytics embedded on-chip analytics and Agile Analog on-chip analog monitoring IP.