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5 Ways FPGAs Enable Cyber Resilience

5 Ways FPGAs Enable Cyber Resilience
Posted 10/31/2023 by Eric Sivertson, VP of Security Business and Mamta Gupta, Director of Marketing Security & Comms Segment

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In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the importance of cyber resilience cannot be overstated. The rise of modern technology – including automation, machine learning (ML), 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI) – has provided us with a host of benefits and advancements, but it has also opened doors for increased vulnerability to cyberattacks. In fact, nearly 75% of organizations have experienced a cyberattack in the past year and, even further, the global average cost of a data breach so far this year is $4.4 million.

In October, Lattice recognizes Cybersecurity Awareness Month to help foster an industry-wide culture of cyber resilience. Defined as the ability to continuously deliver intended outcomes despite adverse cyber events through a combination of protection, detection, and recovery, cyber resilience enables business continuity, overall organizational resilience, and information security. It connects the dots between cyber risk and business risk, and safeguards assets that are imperative to enterprise health. With organizations facing ever-evolving cyber threats, now is the time to prioritize cyber resilience.

As technological advancements continue, new methods will emerge to attack systems, exploit weaknesses within them, and steal sensitive information. As a result, it’s important to implement effective security strategies that provide protection both now and in the future. Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are a powerful solution to help organizations navigate the cyber threat landscape and foster a safer future, today. In this blog post, we’ll explore five key ways FPGAs enable cyber resilience by protecting systems and data from sophisticated attacks.

Five Ways FPGAs Drive Cyber Resilience

1. Flexibility

Renowned for their inherent flexibility, FPGAs can be programmed and reprogrammed over time to align with new security standards without being removed from their host device. This flexible nature also means that FPGAs have lifetime longevity, which is uncommon among other types of semiconductors.

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, FPGAs’ adaptability allows developers to deploy updates without the need for an all-new tape out or device switch-out, as well as mitigate any new security vulnerabilities found after a design is locked.

2. Hardware Root of Trust (HRoT)

Secure FPGAs can be very effective HRoT devices – a tamper-resistant component within a computer system that ensures security and integrity. This immutability, combined with their flexible nature, make FPGAs an ideal security engine for a variety of industries that are urgently requiring security solutions.

FPGAs like Lattice MachXO3D™ and Lattice Mach™-NX are HRoT and provide a trusted and tamper-resistant foundation for system security. The devices contain dedicated security engines hardened in silicon with secure, immutable unique IDs. This ensures that the system’s core functions and critical components are rooted in a silicon root of trust and can be verified as genuine and unaltered, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or malicious tampering. And, like all Lattice FPGAs, they lead their class in small size and power efficiency, key factors in system designs across a variety of industries.

3. Platform Firmware Resilience (PFR)

PFR is designated as a critical requirement to maintain cyber resiliency, according to U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines. FPGAs utilize PFR to help you protect, detect, and recover from cyberattacks in real time – monitoring data traffic to identify potential anomalies and alert you if malware is present. If a firmware attack is detected, then the FPGA can load a golden image of authorized firmware, override the unauthorized version, and help the system recover.

FPGAs can also employ PFR mechanisms to ensure the integrity and authenticity of firmware throughout the system's operation. For example, the Lattice Sentry™ solution stack helps minimize in-system firmware attack vulnerabilities by providing real-time, dynamic protection, detection, and recovery capabilities. In the latest version, Lattice has added additional functionalities to help system designers proactively combat cybersecurity threats and extend support to more devices within the Lattice FPGA portfolio.

4. Supply Chain Protection

With modern supply chains being spread all over the globe, multiple threats – like counterfeiting, Trojan insertion, and IP theft – can occur at various stages, which can result in disruptions and financial losses. A robust supply chain security system is imperative to keep costs down, without compromising security.

The Lattice SupplyGuard™ protection service is a revolutionary end-to-end supply chain security service that helps ensure the integrity of Lattice’s FPGAs and customer code from factory birth through the end-product’s lifecycle. Using factory-locked integrated circuits (ICs), system architects can rest assured that their program is copy and tamper resistant.

5. PQC Implementation

Lastly, with the oncoming rise of quantum computing technology, migrating to post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is becoming more critical than ever. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and NIST recently published a joint statement that called for accelerated PQC migration.

FPGAs can help protect against quantum-powered cyberattacks by facilitating streamlined PQC migration through their “crypto agile” capabilities. With innate flexibility, programmability, and parallel processing, FPGAs enable developers to keep up with evolving security standards, refine embedded hardware, and patch vulnerabilities. The unique crypto agility available in some Lattice RoT device families allows for seamless in-field updates to implement PQC algorithms as they are finalized.

Fostering a Secure Future

As cyber threats evolve with the constant stream of technological innovations, building and maintaining cyber resilience is imperative for developers. FPGAs are ideally equipped to play a pivotal role in enhancing cyber resilience by offering a dynamic and adaptable hardware platform and a series of robust security measures.

FPGAs take a multifaceted approach to reduce attack surfaces and mitigate risks, making them an essential component of modern cybersecurity strategies. Designed to empower organizations to proactively protect, detect, and recover from attacks, FPGAs stand as a cornerstone in bolstering the resilience of modern systems.

To learn more about how Lattice FPGAs and solution stacks can help you bolster and maintain cybersecurity, reach out to our team today.