Highway to HAL

Sebastian Wallat, Nils Albartus, Steffen Becker, Max Hoffmann, Maik Ender, Marc Fyrbiak, Adrian Drees, Sebastian Maaßen, Chris­tof Paar

CF'19 Proceedings of the 16th ACM International Conference on Computing Frontiers Pages 392-397


Since hardware oftentimes serves as the root of trust in ourmodern interconnected world, malicious hardware manipu-lations constitute a ubiquitous threat in the context of theInternet of Things (IoT). Hardware reverse engineering is aprevalent technique to detect such manipulations.Over the last years, an active research community has sig-nificantly advanced the field of hardware reverse engineering.Notably, many open research questions regarding the extrac-tion of functionally correct netlists from Field ProgrammableGate Arrays (FPGAs) or Application Specific IntegratedCircuits (ASICs) have been tackled. In order to facilitatefurther analysis of recovered netlists, a software framework isrequired, serving as the foundation for specialized algorithms.Currently, no such framework is publicly available.Therefore, we provide the first open-source gate-libraryagnostic framework for gate-level netlist analysis. In thispositional paper, we demonstrate the workflow of our modularframeworkHALon the basis of two case studies and provideprofound insights on its technical foundations.


tags: gate-level netlist, HAL, Hardware Reverse Engineering, open-sourceframework