Side channels are a commonly exploited to derive secret information from hardware. These leak information through unintended sources, e.g., the amount of time to perform an encryption. They have been shown to be a powerful attack to extract cryptographic keys and other confidential information. There are many defenses against these timing side channel attacks. Most of them perform some sort of randomization in an attempt to mask the computation time. Yet, it has been difficult to quantify the benefit of these defenses.
Our recent research provides a metric to allow designers to determine how resilient their design is in the face of a side channel attack. While there are many metrics for hardware designers, these have focused on performance, power, and area. We developed information theoretic approaches and showed that they can be used to quantify timing-based information leakage. This is detailed in our recently accepted paper, “Quantifying Timing-Based Information Flow in Cryptographic Hardware” at the International Conference on Computer Aided Design. Vinnie will present the paper in Austin, TX in November. Congrats to all the authors: Baolei Mao, Vinnie Wei Hu, Alric Althoff, Janarbek Matai, Jason Oberg, Dejun Mu, Tim Sherwood, and Ryan Kastner.
Ryan and Vinnie travel to Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi’an China to continue our collaboration with Dr. Dejun Mu and his students. Ryan was given a visiting professor position as part of the NPU Special Zone for Talents. Vinnie was a gracious host, showing Ryan all of the sites in Xi’an and making sure he was well feed. The picture is of the Famen Temple outside of Xi’an, and of course, Ryan’s foot (to add to his foot picture collection).
The end of the academic year brought to close yet another successful set of projects in Ryan’s CSE 145 – Embedded Systems Design Project class. The focus of the class is to let the students understand the end to end process of building an embedded system. Along the way, they also learn how to better present their project ideas, write technical documents, create promotional videos, and even how to create startups from their ideas.
There were 14 projects this year. They ranged from playful (e.g., an system that automates the process of making a light show for raves — this BlueRave team is in the picture) to much more serious (e.g., a device to detect when a person is having an epileptic seizure). And there were many other projects in between. You can see all of the final videos on the class project website. Or you can learn about a few of the other projects in the news release from Calit2.
A special thanks to Tiffany Fox for teaching the students how to give outstanding presentations, and providing the students with critiques on their oral presentations. And the class very much enjoyed special guest lectures from Jay Kunin (entrepreneurship), and Mike Kalichman (ethics).
Nonnegative least squares (NNLS) is important in many application domains including graphics, imaging, digital signal processing, and compressive sensing. Our paper titled “A Scalable FPGA Architecture for Nonnegative Least Squares Problems” details the first FPGA architecture for this application; it will be published in the International Conference on Field-programmable Logic and Applications (FPL). The paper describes two different architectures that provide a low cost, low power, and high performance computing solution. It is the first NNLS implementation for an FPGA. Alric Althoff is the lead author along with Ryan. FPL is a premier conference in the area of reconfigurable computing and FPGAs. It is held in London, England this coming September.