Doctoral student Georgios Provelengios of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has won the Stamatis Vassiliadis Best Paper Award at the 2019 International Conference on Field Programmable Logic and Applications (FPL). His paper was selected as the best paper out of 151 paper submissions. FPL is the top European conference for the reconfigurable computing research field and one of the top four conferences held annually in the field. The paper was titled "Characterizing Power Distribution Attacks in Multi-User FPGA Environments."
As Provelengios explains his paper, "Field programmable gate arrays (or, for short, FPGAs) are devices that contain flexible hardware that can adapt or change their functionality based on the specific problem the FPGA designer wants to solve. FPGAs are increasingly being adopted for cloud computing, and future usage models are likely to have multiple users sharing FPGA instances.”
Provelengios goes on to explain that, in this setting, malicious users may exploit the flexibility of FPGAs to create circuits for attacking the other users that share the FPGA with them.
“Our paper shows that an application with malicious power consumption circuits can disturb the power distribution network of the device to cause faults in a second application that shares the FPGA,” says Provelengios.
Provelengios adds that “We extensively characterize the underlying mechanisms by which the supply voltage is disturbed and propose mitigation strategies based on low-cost monitoring circuits that can identify the source of an attack so that the attacker’s use of the FPGA can be revoked." (October 2019)