Ensuring Hardware Cybersecurity


  • John Villasenor

Despite the enormous amount of attention that has been directed to software security in recent years, relatively little attention has been given to hardware security. More than ever, the devices that are critical to everyday life and to the larger infrastructure are dependent on increasingly sophisticated integrated circuits (ICs). As the complexity and size of these ICs continue to grow, so does the risk of “Trojan” attacks, in which malicious circuitry is hidden within a chip during the design and manufacturing process. The circuitry could be triggered to launch an attack months or years later, with very significant consequences if carried out on a large scale. This presentation will explain the increasingly global nature of the semiconductor industry, and identify technology and policy steps that can be taken to minimize the likelihood of a successful, large-scale, hardware-based cyberattack.

John Villasenor is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies and the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. His work addresses the intersection of technology, policy and the law . He holds a B.S. degree from the University of Virginia, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, all in electrical engineering.