"Designing and implementing malicious hardware"

Ed Gerck edgerck at nma.com
Mon Apr 28 14:04:34 EDT 2008

Leichter, Jerry wrote:
> I suspect the only heavy-weight defense is the same one we use against
> the "Trusting Trust" hook-in-the-compiler attack:  Cross-compile on
> as many compilers from as many sources as you can, on the assumption
> that not all compilers contain the same "hook". 
> Of course, you'd end up with a machine no faster than your slowest
> chip, and you'd have to worry about the correctness of the glue
> circuitry that compares the results. 

Each chip does not have to be 100% independent, and does not have to 
be used 100% of the time.

Assuming a random selection of both outputs and chips for testing, and 
a finite set of possible outputs, it is possible to calculate what 
sampling ratio would provide an adequate confidence level -- a good 
guess is 5% sampling.

This should not create a significant impact on average speed, as 95% 
of the time the untested samples would not have to wait for 
verification (from the slower chips). One could also trust-certify 
each chip based on its positive, long term performance -- which could 
allow that chip to run with much less sampling, or none at all.

In general, this approach is based on the properties of trust when 
viewed in terms of Shannon's IT method, as explained in [*]. Trust is 
seen not as a subjective property, but as something that can be 
communicated and measured. One of the resulting rules is that trust 
cannot be communicated by self-assertions (ie, asking the same chip) 
[**]. Trust can be positive (what we call trust), negative (distrust), 
and zero (atrust -- there is no trust value associated with the 
information, neither trust nor distrust). More in [*].

Ed Gerck

[*] www.nma.com/papers/it-trust-part1.pdf

[**] Ken's paper title (op. cit.) is, thus, identified to be part of 
the very con game described in the paper.

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