Prof. Jeyavijayan (JV) Rajendran

Photo of Prof. Jeyavijayan (JV) Rajendran

Short Biography

Jeyavijayan (JV) Rajendran (S’09, M’15) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at UT Dallas between 2015 and 2017. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at New York University in August 2015.

Prof. Rajendran’s research interests include hardware security and computer security. His research has won the the ACM SIGDA Outstanding Young Faculty Award in 2019, NSF CAREER Award in 2017, the ACM SIGDA Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award in 2017, and the Alexander Hessel Award for the Best Ph.D. Dissertation in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at NYU in 2016. He has won three Student Paper Awards (ACM CCS 2013, IEEE DFTS 2013, and IEEE VLSI Design 2012); four ACM Student Research Competition Awards (DAC 2012, ICCAD 2013, DAC 2014, and the Grand Finals 2013); Service Recognition Award from Intel; Third place at Kaspersky American Cup, 2011; and Myron M. Rosenthal Award for Best Academic Performance in M.S. from NYU, 2011. He organizes the annual Embedded Security Challenge, a red-team/blue-team hardware security competition, and has cofounded Hack@DAC, a student security competition co-located with DAC, and FOSTER. He is a member of IEEE and ACM.

Talk Title: Swatting the Hardware Security Bugs

Modern computer systems are becoming faster, more efficient, and increasingly interconnected with each generation. Thus, these platforms grow more complex, with new features continually introducing the possibility of new bugs. Although the semiconductor industry employs a combination of different verification techniques to ensure the security of System-on-Chip (SoC) designs, a growing number of increasingly sophisticated attacks are starting to leverage cross-layer bugs. These attacks leverage subtle interactions between hardware and software, as recently demonstrated through a series of real-world exploits that affected all major hardware vendors. In this work, we take a deep dive into microarchitectural security from a hardware designer’s perspective by reviewing state-of-the-art approaches used to detect hardware vulnerabilities at design time. We show that a protection gap currently exists, leaving chip designs vulnerable to software-based attacks that can exploit these hardware vulnerabilities. Inspired by real-world vulnerabilities and insights from our industry collaborator (a leading chip manufacturer), we construct the first representative testbed of real-world software-exploitable RTL bugs based on RISC-V SoCs. Patching these bugs may not always be possible and can potentially result in a product recall. Based on our testbed, we conduct two extensive case studies to analyze the effectiveness of state-of-the-art security verification approaches and identify specific classes of vulnerabilities, which we call HardFails, which these approaches fail to detect. Through our work, we focus the spotlight on specific limitations of these approaches to propel future research in these directions. We envision our RISC-V testbed of RTL bugs providing a rich exploratory ground for future research in hardware security verification and contributing to the open-source hardware landscape.

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