Paper 2023/022

Recommendation for a holistic secure embedded ISA extension

Florian Stolz, Ruhr University Bochum
Marc Fyrbiak, Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy
Pascal Sasdrich, Ruhr University Bochum
Tim Güneysu, Ruhr University Bochum

Embedded systems are a cornerstone of the ongoing digitization of our society, ranging from expanding markets around IoT and smart-X devices over to sensors in autonomous driving, medical equipment or critical infrastructures. Since a vast amount of embedded systems are safety-critical (e.g., due to their operation site), security is a necessity for their operation. However, unlike mobile, desktop, and server systems, where adversaries typically only act have remote access, embedded systems typically face attackers with physical access. Thus embedded system require an additional set of defense techniques, preferably leveraging hardware acceleration to minimize the impact on their stringent operation constraints. Over the last decade numerous defenses have been explored, however, they have often been analyzed in isolation. In this work, we first systematically analyze the state of the art in defenses for both software exploitation and fault attacks on embedded systems. We then carefully design a holistic instruction set extension to augment the RISC-V instruction set architecture with instructions to deter against the threats analyzed in this work. Moreover we implement our design using the gem5 simulator system and a binary translation approach to arm software with our instruction set extension. Finally, we evaluate performance overhead on the MiBench2 benchmark suite. Our evaluation demonstrates a ROM overhead increase of 20% to defeat the aforementioned attacks.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. 21st International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security
Embedded SecurityPhysical AttacksISA Extension
Contact author(s)
florian stolz @ rub de
marc fyrbiak @ mpi-sp org
pascal sasdrich @ rub de
tim gueneysu @ rub de
2023-01-09: approved
2023-01-06: received
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      author = {Florian Stolz and Marc Fyrbiak and Pascal Sasdrich and Tim Güneysu},
      title = {Recommendation for a holistic secure embedded {ISA} extension},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/022},
      year = {2023},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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