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Cyber researchers create chip that checks for ‘Trojan horse’ malicious circuitry

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NEW YORK. With the outsourcing of microchip design and fabrication of a worldwide $350 billion business, bad actors along the supply chain have many opportunities to install malicious circuitry in chips.

This kind of “Trojan horse” malicious circuitry may look harmless but it can allow cyber attackers to sabotage military and government electronics, as well as electronics for health care devices, public infrastructure, and financial institutions.

Siddharth Garg, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, N.Y., and fellow researchers are developing a unique solution: a chip with an embedded module that proves that its calculations are correct and an external module that validates the first module’s proofs.

So-called “trap doors” in microprocessors and other electronic components pose a security risk for sensitive military systems, so depending on its reliability — and on how well the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) takes it — this new chip could be an important addition to mission- and life-critical military electronics.

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