Understanding Integrated Circuit Security Threats


MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Asif Iqbal, SDM ’11
Power and Performance Program Manager, Apple Inc.

Download the presentation slides

Date: February 10, 2014

About the Presentation

Asif Iqbal

The security threats to critical hardware- and software-based infrastructure are greater than ever, no matter what the domain. Always at high risk for tampering and historically compromised by software and social engineering attacks, critical infrastructures in the military, finance, smart grid, healthcare, public records, commerce, and other domains now face a new threat—fake and infected integrated circuits that infiltrate high-value, data-based systems. These “hardware Trojans” can cause serious damage to financial, safety, security systems, and more.

The goal of this webinar is to increase awareness of this new cyber threat and to outline countermeasures. The presentation will include:

  • a discussion of the taxonomy of existing hardware security vulnerabilities and an overview of root causes;
  • an explanation of how hardware Trojans enable malicious tampering of an integrated circuit (IC) by adding to or modifying a system’s electrical circuitry;
  • a discussion of specific threats, such as confidential information leaks;
  • examples of how hardware Trojans can be activated via hardware modifications to microprocessors, digital signal processors, application-specific ICs and commercial off-the-shelf parts;
  • an explanation of why conventional design-time verification and post-manufacturing testing cannot readily be extended to detect hardware Trojans due to their stealth nature, inordinately large number of possible instances, and wide variety of structure and operating modes; and
  • a high-level discussion of combat strategies.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

About the Speaker

Asif Iqbal is a power and performance program manager at Apple Inc. His areas of expertise include digital design, system architecture, modeling, and simulation of electronic systems. Recently, he worked on developing the 12-hour battery life for the 2013 Macbook Air and the 2013 Mac Pro. He holds several patents in cellular communications, high-speed digital design, and signal processing. As an SDM graduate, he has a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication from Jamia Millia Islamia. His research interests include cyber security, high-performance architecture, and product and innovation management.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.