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Research points to vulnerability in Xilinx FPGAs

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re: Research points to vulnerability in Xilinx FPGAs
UdaraW   8/6/2011 12:45:20 AM
In their paper, the researchers from Horst Gortz Institute for IT-Security claim that their was the first successful attack against the Virtex 4 and Virtex 5 FPGAs where the side-channel analysis of bit-stream encryption was utilized. While the technical vulnerability is acknowledged, the important questions is on whether a corresponding business vulnerability exists for FPGA users in it or not. The Xilinx spokesperson argues (as expected) that the attack requires a higher degree of sophistication, a high level of motivation and for the attacker to have physically access to the circuitry and therefore, the business vulnerability is minimal at present. This seems like many other claims that the vendors tend offer before a serious breach occurs. What I believe is that technical landscapes can change very very fast. For an example, side-channel attacks on the AES algorithm at the software-level is no longer a sophisticated process. In few more months, a side-channel attack on attack on an FPGA may not require the same level of sophistication and motivation as is argued. Besides, who can disregard the motivation to reverse-engineer a state-of-the-art product to steal its IP? The motivation is present all the time.

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