Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Yong C. Kim, PhD


Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) based on Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) are vulnerable to tampering attacks such as readback and cloning attacks. Such attacks enable the reverse engineering of the design programmed into an FPGA. To counter such attacks, measures that protect the design with low performance penalties should be employed. This research proposes a method which employs the addition of active decoy circuits to protect SRAM FPGAs from reverse engineering. The effects of the protection method on security, execution time, power consumption, and FPGA resource usage are quantified. The method significantly increases the security of the design with only minor increases in execution time, power consumption, and resource usage. For the circuits used to characterize the method, security increased to more than one million times the original values, while execution time increased to at most 1.2 times, dynamic power consumption increased to at most two times, and look-up table usage increased to at most seven times the original values. These are reasonable penalties given the size and security of the modified circuits. The proposed design protection method also extends to FPGAs based on other technologies and to Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). In addition to the design methodology proposed, a new classification of tampering attacks and countermeasures is presented.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number