Evaluating coherence-exploiting hardware Trojan

Minsu Kim, Sunhee Kong, Boeui Hong, Lei Xu, Weidong Shi, Taeweon Suh

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Increasing complexity of integrated circuits and IP-based hardware designs have created the risk of hardware Trojans. This paper introduces a new type of threat, a coherence-exploiting hardware Trojan. This Trojan can be maliciously implanted in master components in a system, and continuously injects memory transactions onto the main interconnect. The injected traffic forces the eviction of cache lines, taking advantage of cache coherence protocols. This type of Trojans insidiously slows down the system performance, incurring Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack. We used a Xilinx Zynq-7000 device to implement the Trojan and evaluate its severity. Experiments revealed that the system performance can be severely degraded as much as 258% with the Trojan. A countermeasure to annihilate the Trojan attack is proposed in detail. We also found that AXI version 3.0 supports a seemingly irrelevant invalidation protocol through ACP, opening a door for the potential Trojan attack.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2017 Design, Automation and Test in Europe, DATE 2017
    PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)9783981537093
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 11
    Event20th Design, Automation and Test in Europe, DATE 2017 - Swisstech, Lausanne, Switzerland
    Duration: 2017 Mar 272017 Mar 31


    Other20th Design, Automation and Test in Europe, DATE 2017
    CitySwisstech, Lausanne


    • AXI protocol
    • Cache coherence
    • DoS attack
    • Hardware Trojan
    • Zynq-7000

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Computer Networks and Communications
    • Hardware and Architecture
    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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