Special Issue on the Digital Threats of Hardware Security

Guest Editors
Aydin Aysu, North Carolina State University, USA
Scott Graham, US Air Force Institute of Technology, USA 


From a cybersecurity perspective, hardware has often been viewed as the trusted part of computing systems and the last fortress of defense against potential attackers. However, advanced threats such as StuxNet made it clear that the air gap is no longer a defense. And more recent threats such as Meltdown/Spectre demonstrate that hardware architecture itself can be used as a Digital Threat. Indeed, the attack surface for modern systems may now include programmable logic controller (PLC) rootkits, fake or cloned chips that deliver degraded or malicious behavior, hardware Trojans that can be utilized as kill switches, and near invisible chips that are not part of original board designs. Unfortunately, hardware attacks have also become easier to develop, cheaper to deploy, and more feasible in more systems. If hardware can no longer be considered the effortless root of trust, then new theory, techniques, and tools must be developed to address these problems and to ensure secure design, synthesis, integration, and deployment of hardware components.

DTRAP aims to create a special issue highlighting the methods by which hardware can be used as a Digital Threat, or as a countermeasure.  Topics include: 

  • Case studies on hardware-based threat effectiveness and countermeasures 
  • Hardware tampering and tamper-resistance 
  • Hardware Trojans and Backdoors 
  • Reverse engineering and countermeasures 
  • Clone identification and anti-counterfeiting 
  • Security in reconfigurable hardware
  • Hardware-based security primitives (PUFs, RNGs) 
  • Side-channel attacks and defenses 
  • Fault attacks and countermeasures 
  • Emerging hardware authentication primitives 
  • Automatic identification of hardware security-critical parts 
  • Security-aware architectures 
  • Application of machine learning to hardware security 
  • Integration of secure hardware with higher level software, firmware, and micro-architectures 
  • Implementation of next-generation cryptography (homomorphic encryption, post-quantum, lightweight, etc.)

DTRAP invites both academics and practitioners to submit papers for consideration in the journal.  Extended conference papers are welcome, provided they have been revised to include at least 25% new content (and the previously published proceedings paper is submitted along with the research paper).  Practitioners are welcome to submit a journal style research paper or a “Field Notes” paper.  A “Field Notes” paper is a short case report about emerging threats and developments, emphasizing a particular development or application over a rigorous study or proof of security.

To submit to this special issue, please visit ACM Manuscript Central at mc.manuscriptcentral.com/dtrap and select paper type “Special Issue on the Digital Threats of Hardware Security.” Details of the author guidelines for DTRAP are available at dtrap.acm.org/authors.cfm

Important Dates

Paper submission due: July 15, 2020
Initial review feedback: October 15, 2020
Revision due: December 15, 2020
Final review decision: March 2021 

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