Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering (Holcomb Dept. of)

Committee Member

Dr. Yingjie Lao, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Richard R. Brooks

Committee Member

Dr. Adam Hoover


With the rise of computing devices, the security robustness of the devices has become of utmost importance. Companies invest huge sums of money, time and effort in security analysis and vulnerability testing of their software products. Bug bounty programs are held which incentivize security researchers for finding security holes in software. Once holes are found, software firms release security patches for their products. The semiconductor industry has flourished with accelerated innovation. Fabless manufacturing has reduced the time-to-market and lowered the cost of production of devices. Fabless paradigm has introduced trust issues among the hardware designers and manufacturers. Increasing dependence on computing devices in personal applications as well as in critical infrastructure has given a rise to hardware attacks on the devices in the last decade. Reverse engineering and IP theft are major challenges that have emerged for the electronics industry. Integrated circuit design companies experience a loss of billions of dollars because of malicious acts by untrustworthy parties involved in the design and fabrication process, and because of attacks by adversaries on the electronic devices in which the chips are embedded. To counter these attacks, researchers have been working extensively towards finding strong countermeasures. Hardware obfuscation techniques make the reverse engineering of device design and functionality difficult for the adversary. The goal is to conceal or lock the underlying intellectual property of the integrated circuit. Obfuscation in hardware circuits can be implemented to hide the gate-level design, layout and the IP cores. Our work presents a novel hardware obfuscation design through reconfigurable finite field arithmetic units, which can be employed in various error correction and cryptographic algorithms. The effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed methods are verified by an obfuscated Reformulated Inversion-less Berlekamp-Massey (RiBM) architecture based Reed-Solomon decoder. Our experimental results show the hardware implementation of RiBM based Reed-Solomon decoder built using reconfigurable field multiplier designs. The proposed design provides only very low overhead with improved security by obfuscating the functionality and the outputs. The design proposed in our work can also be implemented in hardware designs of other algorithms that are based on finite field arithmetic. However, our main motivation was to target encryption and decryption circuits which store and process sensitive data and are used in critical applications.



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