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Protecting Analog Sensor Security

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Why are undergraduates taught to hold the digital abstraction as sacrosanct and unquestionable? Why do microprocessors blindly trust input from sensors, and what can be done to establish trust in unusual input channels in cyberphysical systems? Risks of analog sensor security pose challenges to autonomous vehicles, medical devices, and the Internet of Things. Analog sensor security builds upon classic research in fault injection and side channels. Paradoxically, analog security can reduce risks by detecting an adversary via the physics of computation. I will explain approaches for computers to distinguish real signals from fake signals, as well as technology that exploits beneficial side channels in AC power outlets to detect malware. I’ll explain modulation attacks based on Ghost Talk [Foo Kune et al., IEEE S&P] and WALNUT [Trippel et al., IEEE Euro S&P] whereby intentional electromagnetic and acoustic interference causes chosen failures and unintentional demodulation systems ranging from fitbits and implantable medical devices to drones and phones. This work brings some closure to my curiosity on why a cordless phone would ring whenever I executed certain memory operations on the video graphics chip of an Apple IIGS .

Bio: Kevin is Associate Professor in EECS at the University of Michigan where he directs the Security and Privacy Research Group ( and the Archimedes Center for Medical Device Security ( He was named a Sloan Research Fellow, MIT Technology Review TR35 Innovator of the Year, and Fed100 Award recipient. He received best paper awards from USENIX Security, IEEE S&P, and ACM SIGCOMM . Fu has testified in the U.S. House and Senate on matters of information security and has written commissioned work on trustworthy medical device software for the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. He is a member the Computing Community Consortium Council and ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy. Kevin previously served as program chair of USENIX Security, a member of the U.S. NIST Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, and a visiting scientist at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Fu received his B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. from MIT . He earned a certificate of artisanal bread making from the French Culinary Institute.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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