CERIAS Security Seminar: Contactless Control Flow Monitoring via Electromagnetic Emanations

The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security
January 15, 2020
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
STEW G52 (Suite 050B), West Lafayette Campus


Sriharsha Etigowni
Purdue University

Abstract: Trustworthy operation of industrial control systems depends on secure and real-time codeexecution on the embedded programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The controllers monitorand control the critical infrastructures, such as electric power grids and healthcare platforms,and continuously report back the system status to human operators. This talk is about Zeus, acontactless embedded controller security monitor solution that will ensure its execution controlflow integrity. Zeus leverages the electromagnetic emission by the PLC circuitry during theexecution of the controller programs. Zeus’s contactless execution tracking enables non-intrusive monitoring of security-critical controllers with tight real-time constraints. Thosedevices often cannot tolerate the cost and performance overhead that comes with additionaltraditional hardware or software monitoring modules. Furthermore, Zeus provides an airgapbetween the monitor (trusted computing base) and the target (potentially compromised) PLC.This eliminates the possibility of the monitor infection by the same attack vectors.

Zeus monitors for control low integrity of the PLC program execution. Zeus monitors thecommunications between the human- machine interface and the PLC and captures the controllogic binary uploads to the PLC. Zeus exercises its feasible execution paths, and fingerprintstheir emissions using an external electromagnetic sensor. Zeus trains a neural network forlegitimate PLC execution and uses it at runtime to identify the control flow based on PLC’selectromagnetic emissions. Zeus was implemented on a commercial Allen Bradley PLC, which iswidely used in industry, and evaluated it on real-world control program executions. Zeus wasable to distinguish between different legitimate and malicious executions with 98.9% accuracyand with zero overhead on PLC execution by design.

About: Sriharsha Etigowni is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Purdue University.  He earned his PhD in Electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University.  His research mainly focuses on security of cyber physical systems.  His research is to secure cyber physical systems by using physical and control invariants.  His research interests involve IoT embedded system security, trusted computing, secure boot, runtime monitoring and detection, physical side channels, and applied cryptography.
Apart from academic research he also has industrial experience working for Bosch on automotive embedded systems specifically on In-vehicle communication protocols and working for Siemens on intelligent automated systems in manufacturing domain. His work spans in different areas of cyber physical systems such as power grids, drones, automotive, and critical manufacturing.

The weekly security seminar has been held every semester since spring of 1992. We invite personnel at Purdue and visitors from outside to present on topics of particular interest to them in the areas of computer and network security, computer crime investigation, information warfare, information ethics, public policy for computing and security, the computing "underground," and other related topics. More info

Contact Details

Add to calendar