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Understanding the Potential FPGA Concerns and Their Solutions

Within the intricate realm of FPGAs lies a world of boundless possibilities, where their ingenious architecture, adaptability, and sheer efficiency capture our admiration. Nevertheless, lurking beneath this technological marvel, lie certain security perils that demand our attention. 

Here are four treacherous paths that hackers can tread upon through unauthorized FPGA access.

  • Decoding the Menace of Bitstream Interception

Bitstream interception stands as a prevalent method exploited by attackers to compromise FPGAs. This security vulnerability has been extensively recorded, and its ramifications in terms of vulnerabilities are profound. Through the interception of bitstream data, hackers can pilfer crucial information, manipulate implementation files, and unleash a host of other malicious activities. 

  • Unlocking the Mysteries of Reverse Engineering

Once the bitstream is intercepted, hackers use reverse engineering to peer into the very essence of the FPGA. By using different tools, they may recover circuit designs, map bitstream bits and more. The act of reverse engineering, whether applied to the entire bitstream or only to a fraction of it, can pilfer the intellectual property from its rightful creators.

  • Compromising the System with Spoofing

This allows the hackers to take complete control of the system where they replace the original program with another program of their choice. This is a serious security threat.

Solutions to the above concerns

  • In-depth Authentication and Encryption of Bitstream

Using the right encryption techniques ensure that your FPGA bitstreams are secure. One of the best types of FPGA encryption is using a volatile key. These keys reside securely within battery-backed RAM, and as a result, the bitstream remains perpetually shielded by encryption. In this way, potential threats like data interception and side-channel attacks can be effectively thwarted.

  • Isolated Configuration Process 

To safeguard the system against microprocessor attacks, many FPGAs come with on-chip isolation. Keeping the configuration process isolated from the standard data paths ensures no one is affected. This act similar to a firewall, offering additional protection and ensuring circuit isn’t changed during execution. 

  • Cyclic Redundancy Checks and Constant Monitoring

In the realm of FPGA security, a prudent mindset is to perpetually regard them as prime targets for potential attacks. By embracing vigilant monitoring practices and perpetually conducting checks, one can proactively detect and address emerging threats before they escalate into formidable challenges.

Further, cyclical redundancy checks (CRCs) possess an innate ability to uncover errors, inadvertent corruption, and unexpected anomalies. They serve as a powerful tool, enabling meticulous examination of the bitstream during transmissions, thereby enabling the identification of errors or even deliberate alterations.

With Orthogone FPGA services, you are assured of a secure FPGA system, which is both efficient and reliable.