NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Beginning Fiscal Year:
The field of cybersecurity has focused predominantly on the security of software and the communication network due to the assumption that the underlying hardware is trustworthy and reliable. However, emerging hardware attack methods have originated from untrustworthy global supply chain sources and vulnerabilities inherent to the hardware. To address these challenges, the government and industry are in urgent need of cybersecurity professionals trained to counter hardware-oriented attacks. However, most students are insufficiently prepared because existing undergraduate curricula for electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and related programs focus primarily on the software and network aspects of cybersecurity. Few institutions have introduced dedicated hardware security courses and even when these courses exist, they are typically electives. This project aims to facilitate hardware security education for engineering undergraduate students by incorporating the relevant concepts into existing core courses. The project will broaden undergraduate students’ participation; advance their knowledge; and create a well-trained and diversified cybersecurity workforce with essential knowledge of hardware security. The security-integrated contents of various core courses will be made available online for all universities and community colleges nationwide. The participation of students who are members of underrepresented groups in cybersecurity education and research should also be catalyzed by this effort.
This project aims to integrate theoretical and practical training on six foundational hardware security concepts in core courses related to digital design and embedded systems. Course modules will be distributed to the broader community after evaluation by industry and academic experts. Existing theory and lab modules within the target core courses will be augmented with security-oriented concepts through a ‘contextual learning’ process, so that they will strengthen the materials of the core course while educating on security. The course materials, modules, and findings will be shared publicly using the PIs’ webpages and well-established online platforms for hardware security, such as Trust-Hub and CAD for Assurance.
This project is supported by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, which funds proposals that address cybersecurity and privacy, and in this case specifically cybersecurity education. The SaTC program aligns with the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan and the National Privacy Research Strategy to protect and preserve the growing social and economic benefits of cyber systems while ensuring security and privacy.