This Year’s Holiday Puzzle: Find The Trojan Horse
By Sergio Marchese, OneSpin Solutions
The challenge reflects real-world problem of trust in hardware designs.
The term “Trojan horse” is widely used, but it’s likely that not everyone knows the story behind this metaphor. It refers to an ancient legend about a giant wooden horse that contained a most unpleasant surprise for its recipients. In general usage, the term refers to anything dangerous that lurks within a seemingly innocent disguise. The electronics hardware design community is increasingly worried about Trojan horses that might be hiding within an IP or SoC design. Security risks of a malicious agent exploiting an unintended design vulnerability are bad enough, but the specter of a deliberate Trojan is even scarier. A hardware Trojan is engineered to cause major damage in response to a trigger known by the attacker. It could expose “secure” data, cause serious product malfunction, or even destroy a chip.