This project will create a novel in-sensor defense methodology to make the state-of-the-art Hall sensors robust against external Electromagnetic-Interference (EMI) spoofing attacks. Prior works in the literature focused only on the safety of the analog-RF electronics by making them robust against EMI in the device level. However, little attention has been paid on the security of analog sensors (e.g., Hall sensors) tightly connected to the analog-RF electronics. Nowadays, many analog-RF electronics are integrated with different onboard Hall sensors. Therefore, security threats from unconventional attacks may come with EMI-spoofing the onboard Hall sensors and such attacks may propagate to the connected analog-RF electronics, hampering the integrity of the whole system. For example, it has been demonstrated that an attack by spoofing the Hall sensors of the solar inverters using an external magnetic field can intentionally perturb the grid frequency, voltage, and inject false real or reactive power to disrupt the power system. Similar attacks may also happen in other critical systems as onboard Hall sensors are nowadays pervasive in various RF applications (e.g., autonomous vehicles, smart grids, robotics, industrial plants, missile guidance, and military defense) because of their low cost, high linearity, and acuracy. Therefore, the research community needs to solve such an important security challenge. This project will have a large impact on the safety and security design of analog-RF systems. The outcomes of this project will be disseminated to the broader communities involving academia, industry, and government via publications and presentations. Moreover, the results of the proposed research activities will be integrated into course work and other educational activities.

Making only the analog-RF electronics robust may not be effective to ensure the security of connected systems against external EMI spoofing attacks through the onboard analog Hall effect sensors. This research will develop a novel hardware-software architecture of in-sensor embedded core. The in-sensor embedded core will integrate the Hall sensors with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) cores using the in-sensor memory block peripherals to keep the connected analog-RF systems safe and secure. Detecting an EMI spoofing attack is critical and it is even more critical to keep the connected RF systems operating properly while under an attack. In the proposed architecture, three equidistant Hall elements embedded in a single Hall sensor will be used to detect and measure any type of external EMI spoofing attack. A novel algorithm will be developed to separate the external EMI spoofing data from the original signal data by using two different platforms, namely the FPGA and the DSP core, to accomplish two different types of tasks (time-sensitive processings tasks and control-oriented tasks) respectively. The communication between the FPGA and the DSP core will use the Direct-Memory-Access (DMA) to increase the bandwidth. Moreover, the proposed methodology will be low-power and will not hamper the existing data-processing speed and data rates of the connected analog-RF systems. This technique not only detects the external EMI spoofing attack but also contains the attacks inside the Hall sensors in real time, so that the attacks cannot propagate further to the connected analog-RF systems. If successful, this methodology can be further developed and applied to other types of analog sensors.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of California Irvine
United States
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