Verification of a practical hardware security architecture through static information flow analysis

Andrew Ferraiuolo, Rui Xu, Danfeng Zhang, Andrew C. Myers, G. Edward Suh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Hardware-based mechanisms for software isolation are becoming increasingly popular, but implementing these mechanisms correctly has proved difficult, undermining the root of security. This work introduces an effective way to formally verify important properties of such hardware security mechanisms. In our approach, hardware is developed using a lightweight security-typed hardware description language (HDL) that performs static information flow analysis. We show the practicality of our approach by implementing and verifying a simplified but realistic multi-core prototype of the ARM TrustZone architecture. To make the security-typed HDL expressive enough to verify a realistic processor, we develop new type system features. Our experiments suggest that information flow analysis is efficient, and programmer effort is modest. We also show that information flow constraints are an effective way to detect hardware vulnerabilities, including several found in commercial processors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-568
Number of pages14
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science


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