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  1. The increasing complexity of System-on-Chip (SoC) designs and the rise of third-party vendors in the semiconductor industry have led to unprecedented security concerns. Traditional formal methods struggle to address software-exploited hardware bugs, and existing solutions for hardware-software co-verification often fall short. This paper presents Microscope, a novel framework for inferring software instruction patterns that can trigger hardware vulnerabilities in SoC designs. Microscope enhances the Structural Causal Model (SCM) with hardware features, creating a scalable Hardware Structural Causal Model (HW-SCM). A domain-specific language (DSL) in SMT-LIB represents the HW-SCM and predefined security properties, with incremental SMT solving deducing possible instructions. Microscope identifies causality to determine whether a hardware threat could result from any software events, providing a valuable resource for patching hardware bugs and generating test input. Extensive experimentation demonstrates Microscope's capability to infer the causality of a wide range of vulnerabilities and bugs located in SoC-level benchmarks. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2025
  2. Information flow tracking was proposed more than 40 years ago to address the limitations of access control mechanisms to guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of information flowing within a system, but has not yet been widely applied in practice for security solutions. Here, we survey and systematize literature on dynamic information flow tracking (DIFT) to discover challenges and opportunities to make it practical and effective for security solutions. We focus on common knowledge in the literature and lingering research gaps from two dimensions— (i) the layer of abstraction where DIFT is implemented (software, software/hardware, or hardware) and (ii) the security goal (confidentiality and/or integrity). We observe that two major limitations hinder the practical application of DIFT for on-the-fly security applications: (i) high implementation overhead and (ii) incomplete information flow tracking (low accuracy). We posit, after review of the literature, that addressing these major impedances via hardware parallelism can potentially unleash DIFT’s great potential for systems security, as it can allow security policies to be implemented in a built-in and standardized fashion. Furthermore, we provide recommendations for the next generation of practical and efficient DIFT systems with an eye towards hardware-supported implementations. 
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