Towards Cognitive Obfuscation - Impeding Hardware Reverse Engineering Based on Psychological Insights

Carina Wiesen, Nils Albartus, Max Hoffmann, Steffen Becker, Sebastian Wallat, Marc Fyrbiak, Nikol Rummel, Chris­tof Paar

ASPDAC '19 Proceedings of the 24th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference Pages 104-111 (presentation at ASPDAC 2019, Tokyo, Japan, January 21–24, 2019)


In contrast to software reverse engineering, there are hardly any tools available that support hardware reversing. There- fore, the reversing process is conducted by human analysts combining several complex semi-automated steps. However, countermeasures against reversing are evaluated solely against mathematical models. Our research goal is the establishment of cognitive obfuscation based on the exploration of under- lying psychological processes. We aim to identify problems which are hard to solve for human analysts and derive novel quantification metrics, thus enabling stronger obfuscation techniques.