Paper 2023/205

DEFending Integrated Circuit Layouts

Jitendra Bhandari, New York University
Jayanth Gopinath, New York University
Mohammed Ashraf, New York University Abu Dhabi
Johann Knechtel, New York University Abu Dhabi
Ramesh Karri, New York University

The production of modern integrated circuit (IC) requires a complex, outsourced supply chain involving computer-aided design (CAD) tools, expert knowledge, and advanced foundries. This complexity has led to various security threats, such as Trojans inserted by adversaries during outsourcing, and physical probing or manipulation of devices at run-time. Our proposed solution, DEFense is an extensible CAD framework for evaluating and proactively mitigating threats to IC at the design-time stage. Our goal with DEFense is to achieve “security closure” at the physical layout level of IC design, prioritizing security alongside traditional power, performance, and area (PPA) objectives. DEFense uses an iterative approach to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in the IC layout, automating vulnerability assessments and identifying vulnerable active devices and wires. Using the quantified findings, DEFense guides CAD tools to re-arrange placement and routing and use other heuristic means to “DEFend” the layouts. DEFense is independent of back-end CAD tools as it works with the standard DEF format for physical layouts. It is a flexible and extensible scripting framework without the need for modifications to commercial CAD code bases. We are providing the framework to the community and have conducted a thorough experimental investigation into different threats and adversaries at various stages of the IC life-cycle, including Trojan insertion by an untrusted foundry, probing by an untrusted end-user, and intentionally introduced crosstalk by an untrusted foundry.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Hardware SecurityIntegrated CircuitsPhysical DesignTrojansProbing AttacksDefenseSecurity Assessment
Contact author(s)
jb7410 @ nyu edu
jg6476 @ nyu edu
ma199 @ nyu edu
johann @ nyu edu
rkarri @ nyu edu
2023-02-20: approved
2023-02-15: received
See all versions
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Jitendra Bhandari and Jayanth Gopinath and Mohammed Ashraf and Johann Knechtel and Ramesh Karri},
      title = {{DEFending} Integrated Circuit Layouts},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/205},
      year = {2023},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
Note: In order to protect the privacy of readers, does not use cookies or embedded third party content.