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Apr 25, 2019

New technique uses power anomalies to ID malware in embedded systems

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, internet, mobile phones, robotics/AI

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas at Austin have developed a technique for detecting types of malware that use a system’s architecture to thwart traditional security measures. The new detection approach works by tracking power fluctuations in embedded systems.

“Embedded systems are basically any computer that doesn’t have a physical keyboard – from smartphones to Internet of Things devices,” says Aydin Aysu, co-author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. “Embedded systems are used in everything from the voice-activated virtual assistants in our homes to industrial control systems like those used in . And that targets those systems can be used to seize control of these systems or to steal information.”

At issue are so-called micro-architectural attacks. This form of malware makes use of a system’s , effectively hijacking the hardware in a way that gives outside users control of the system and access to its data. Spectre and Meltdown are high-profile examples of micro-architectural malware.

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