Detect Hardware Trojans With "Singing Rings"

Researchers have proposed a new method for detecting trojan viruses embedded into hardware chips by using voltage detectors that “sing out” in a different frequency when they’re used on a tampered circuit.

Net-Security reports that the idea was proposed by researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University and the University of Connecticut. In it, the ring oscillators are applied to different chips on the board. If they’re all legit, they’ll all sound the same. But a chip that has been messed with will produce a different pitch when it’s put to a chip that has been tweaked. Malicious types can produce a chip that logs all your keystrokes or bypasses your system’s circuity. They’re made in factories with lax oversight and then can find their way into consumer, military, and business computers.

The concept would remain in the realm of theory because it’s hard to get one’s hands on Trojan samples, but a students from around the country are participating in the Embedded Systems Challenge organized by NYU-Poly where the goal is to both construct and detect hardware trojans. Their efforts may pave the way for tools and techniques that will help us all keep our laptops and computers safer.

New techniques for detecting hardware Trojans [Net-Security] (Thanks to Mirko!)