Grant Supports Hardware Security Research to Combat Malware

Atlanta  |  Sept. 24, 2017

Researchers in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology have been awarded a $100,000 grant to detect runtime errors using hardware-assisted signature generation. The year-long research project is supported by the Cisco University Research Program Fund, a corporate-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Vincent John Mooney, an associate professor in the School of ECE, leads the Hardware/Software Co-design for Security group which carries out research in embedded systems security and will conduct the investigation based on their proposal, “Runtime Detection of Code Integrity Attacks.”

The project has been identified by Cisco Systems, Inc., as a unique methodology for protecting systems from potentially malicious runtime code modifications.  When software processes are executed on an operating system, the technique will provide a high level of assurance of process integrity and will detect if those processes have been maliciously altered.  Hardware will be introduced to check hash-based signatures at runtime compared to pre-generated signatures found in a locally secure database in order to verify the reliability of the processes running on the system.

Discussions of the research initially took place at the 2015 Cyber Security Summit hosted by the Institute for Information Security & Privacy at Georgia Tech.

“We are pleased to be able to expand our research into process integrity with this gift from Cisco and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation," said Mooney. "We are also very thankful for financial support from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, which enabled our team to create the momentum needed to launch into this next phase of hardware security research."