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A Hacker's Nightmare: Programmable Chips Secured by Chaos

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An illustration of chaos.

A a team of scientists from Ohio State University recently demonstrated a way to use physically unclonable functions in a way that would frustrate even the most patient of hackers.

Credit: iStockphoto

Ohio State University (OSU) scientists demonstrated a method of using physically unclonable functions (PUFs)—technology for generating unique signatures for programmable chips—to thwart hackers.

Said OSU's Noeloikeau Charlot, "Because there's so many possible fingerprints, even if [hackers] have access to your device, it would still take longer than the lifetime of the universe for them to actually record all possible combinations."

OSU's Daniel Gauthier said current PUFs contain a limited number of secrets, which when numbering in the tens, hundreds of thousands, or even 1 million, gives properly equipped hackers enough knowledge to crack those secrets.

The team built a network in the PUFs of randomly interconnected logic gates in order to create "deterministic chaos," which machine learning exploits could not decipher.

From IEEE Spectrum
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