Hardware Trojan Attacks in FPGA Devices: Threat Analysis and Effective Counter Measures

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

GLSVLSI '14 Proceedings of the 24th edition of the Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI


Reconfigurable hardware including Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are being used in a wide range of embedded applications including signal processing, multimedia, and security. FPGA device production is often outsourced to off-shore facilities for economic reasons. This opens up the opportunities for insertion of malicious design alterations in the foundry, referred to as hardware Trojan attacks, to cause logical and physical malfunction. The vulnerability of these devices to hardware attacks raises security concerns regarding hardware and design assurance. In this paper, we analyze hardware Trojan attacks in FPGA considering diverse activation and payload characteristics and derive a taxonomy of Trojan attacks in FPGA. To our knowledge, this is the first effort to analyze Trojan threats in FPGA hardware. Next, we propose a novel redundancy-based protection approach based on Trojan tolerance that modifies the application mapping process to provide high-level of protection against Trojans of varying forms and sizes. We show that the proposed approach incurs significantly higher security at lower overhead than conventional fault-tolerance schemes by exploiting the nature of Trojans and reconfiguration of FPGA resources.


This work is funded in part by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant #1245756 and #1054744.

Original Citation

S. Mal-Sarkar, A. Krishna, A. Ghosh and S. Bhunia, "Hardware trojan attacks in FPGA devices: Threat analysis and effective counter measures," in Proceedings of the 24th Edition of the Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI, Houston, Texas, USA, 2014, pp. 287-292.