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Enhancing Resilience against Sequential Attacks on Logic Locking using Evolutionary Strategies

Marcel Merten; Mohammed E. Djeridane; Muhammad Hassan; Niladri Bhattacharjee; Jens Trommer; Thomas Mikolajick; Rolf Drechsler
In: 36. GI/GMM/ITG Testmethoden und Zuverlässigkeit von Schaltungen und Systemen (TuZ). GI/GMM/ITG Workshop Testmethoden und Zuverlässigkeit von Schaltungen und Systemen (TuZ-2024), February 25-27, Darmstadt, Germany, 2024.


Today, the manufacturing of Integrated Circuits (ICs) is highly distributed over various foundries, yielding long and untrustworthy supply chains. Therefore, severe security concerns about threats like intellectual property theft arise. Logic Locking (LL) is one well-known technique to protect a given design by introducing a secret key. Recent research increased the protection of LL mechanisms on sequential circuits by blocking access to the scan chain. However, state-of-the-art sequential attacks unlock the protection mechanism within a reasonable time resulting in a serious security threat. This work proposes a novel approach to improve resilience against sequential attacks. In particular, an Evolutionary Strategy (ES) is established to optimize the LL placement and improve the protection of the secret key. The experimental evaluation proves that the proposed hardening significantly increases the protection against sequential attacks.