Logic locking is a promising solution against emerging hardware security threats, which entails protecting a Boolean circuit using a “keying” mechanism. The latest and hitherto unbroken logic-locking techniques are based on the “corrupt-and-correct (CAC)” principle, offering provable security against input-output query attacks. However, it remains unclear whether these techniques are susceptible to structural attacks. This paper exploits the properties of integrated circuit (IC) design tools, also termed electronic design automation (EDA) tools, to undermine the security of the CAC techniques. Our proposed attack can break all the CAC techniques, including the unbroken CACrem technique that 40+ hackers taking part in a competition for more than three months could not break. Our attack can break circuits processed with any EDA tools, which is alarming because, until now, none of the EDA tools can render a secure locking solution: logic locking cannot make use of the existing EDA tools. We also provide a security property to ensure resilience against structural attacks. The commonly-used circuits can satisfy this property but only in a few cases where they cannot even defeat brute-force; thus, questions arise on the use of these circuits as benchmarks to evaluate logic locking and other security techniques.
Resolving the Trilemma in Logic Encryption
Logic encryption, a method to lock a circuit from unauthorized use unless the correct key is provided, is the most important technique in hardware IP protection. However, with the discovery of the SAT attack, all traditional logic encryption algorithms are broken. New algorithms after the SAT attack are all vulnerable to structural analysis unless a provable obfuscation is applied to the locked circuit. But there is no provable logic obfuscation available, in spite of some vague resorting to logic resynthesis. In this paper, we formulate and discuss a trilemma in logic encryption among locking robustness, structural security, and encryption efficiency, showing that pre-SAT approaches achieve only structural security and encryption efficiency, and post-SAT approaches achieve only locking robustness and encryption efficiency. There is also a dilemma between query complexity and error number in locking. We first develop a theory and solution to the dilemma in locking between query complexity and error number. Then, we provide a provable obfuscation solution to the dilemma between structural security and locking robustness. We finally present and discuss some results towards the resolution of the trilemma in logic encryption.
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