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ECE Graduate Seminar Lecture by Jakub Szefer, Yale University

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
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Cloud FPGA Security



Cloud FPGAs have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the ability of users to request FPGA resources quickly, flexibly, and on-demand. However, as public cloud providers make FPGAs available to many, potentially mutually-untrusting users, security of these Cloud FPGA deployments needs to be analyzed, and defenses developed. This talk will discuss Cloud FPGA security from the perspective of side and covert channel attacks. Especially we want to address and prevent means for sensitive information, such as cryptographic keys or information about machine learning models from being leaked out. The talk will cover our recent work on thermal channels that can be used to create covert channels between users renting same FPGA over time. The talk will also discuss our other recent work on voltage-based channels that leverage custom circuits instantiated inside the FPGAs to measure voltage changes. Voltage-based channels can be used to leak sensitive information across FPGAs (in single-tenant or multi-tenant settings), or can be combined with other existing attacks to perform cross-talk leakage inside the FPGAs (in multi-tenant settings). The talk will end with overview of some defenses and open challenges in securing Cloud FPGAs.



Jakub Szefer

Associate Professor, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Yale University



Jakub Szefer’s research focuses on computer architecture and hardware security. His research encompasses secure processor architectures, cloud security, FPGA attacks and defenses, and hardware FPGA implementation of cryptographic algorithms. His research is supported through National Science Foundation and industry grants and donations. He is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Yale University, where he leads the Computer Architecture and Security Laboratory (CASLAB). Prior to joining Yale, he received Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, and B.S. degree with highest honors in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has received the NSF CAREER award in 2017. Jakub is the author of first book focusing on processor architecture security: “Principles of Secure Processor Architecture Design”, published in 2018. Recently, he has been promoted to the IEEE Senior Member rank in 2019. Details of Jakub’s research can be found at:


     Host: Professor Patrick Schaumont