Hardware Performance Counter Enhanced Watchdog for Embedded Software Security

Karl Ott1 and Rabi N. Mahapatra2
1Texas A&M University, 2Professor


This paper proposes a novel use of long-short term memory autoencoders coupled with a hardware watchdog timer to the enhance robustness and security of embedded software. With more and more embedded systems being rapidly deployed due to the Internet of Things boom security for embedded systems is becoming a crucial factor. The proposed technique in this paper aims to create a mechanism that can be trained in an unsupervised fashion and detect anomalous execution of embedded software. This is done through the use of long-short term memory autoencoders and a hardware watchdog timer. The proposed technique is evaluated in two scenarios: the first is for detecting generic arbitrary code execution. It can accomplish this with an average accuracy of 91%. The second scenario detecting when there is a malfunction and the program starts executing instructions randomly. It can detect this with an average of accuracy of 88%.