Hardware Trojans in Power Conversion Circuits

Jacob Sillman, Ajay Suresh

This report investigates the potential impact of a Trojan attack on power conversion circuits, specifically a switching signal attack designed to trigger a locking of the pulse width modulation (PWM) signal that goes to a power field-effect transistor (FET). The first simulation shows that this type of attack can cause severe overvoltage, potentially leading to functional failure. The report proposes a solution using a large bypass capacitor to force signal parity, effectively negating the Trojan circuit. The simulation results demonstrate that the proposed solution can effectively thwart the Trojan attack. However, several caveats must be considered, such as the size of the capacitor, possible current leakage, and the possibility that the solution can be circumvented by an adversary with knowledge of the protection strategy. Overall, the findings suggest that proper protection mechanisms, such as the proposed signal-parity solution, must be considered when designing power conversion circuits to mitigate the risk of Trojan attacks.

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