Intel Announces Hardware Security Award Winners

Intel announces the winners of its inaugural Hardware Security Academic Award, aimed at fostering innovative security research from the academic community.



What’s New: Intel announced the winners of its inaugural Hardware Security Academic Award program, aimed at fostering innovative research into solutions, tools and methodologies to address fundamental security challenges and enhance the industry’s ability to deliver secure and trustworthy foundational technologies.

“The exponential increase in data being created, stored and consumed across the computing spectrum coupled with increasing sophistication of attacks makes it clear: No single entity can solve security challenges on their own. That’s what makes partnerships and diverse collaborations so powerful. We work with universities, industry organizations and governance bodies to accelerate the secure future we all envision.”

–Isaura Gaeta, Intel vice president of Security Research

About the Award Program: As part of Intel’s ongoing commitment to security, the company collaborates closely with and supports academic research into the prevention, detection and mitigation of potential security threats through programs such as Intel’s bug bounty program, Intel Labs’ academic and faculty research grants, and now through Intel’s Security Hardware Academic Award program.

The Hardware Security Academic Award program invites academic researchers to submit a recently published paper on outstanding novel research with a meaningful impact on the hardware security ecosystem, including but not limited to Intel’s own products. Isaura Gaeta, vice president of security research at Intel, presented this year’s awards during the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy conference. For researchers who are interested in submitting a paper for next year’s program, look for more information in the coming months.

About the Prizes: A committee at Intel examined the viability, novelty, originality, and relevance of all submissions with a focus on demonstrating significant contribution to and impact on the hardware security industry. It selected first and second prize-winning teams out of 26 papers, featuring more than 80 authors across 14 countries. One-time awards of $75,000 for first prize and $50,000 for second prize will be granted to the winners’ academic institution to be used for further research or curriculum development support (such as class material, conferences sponsorship, computer lab infrastructure, website development, textbooks and more).

About This Year’s Winners:

First place: “Speculative Data-Oblivious Execution – Mobilizing Safe Prediction for Safe and Efficient Speculative Execution”

This research proposes a new mitigation strategy for transient execution attacks at the microarchitecture level while also integrating the best of prior mitigation strategies including invisible speculation & load hardening. Similar to invisible speculation schemes, speculative data-oblivious execution allows a transmit instruction to execute but in a data-oblivious way, hence providing equivalent non-interference security as load hardening schemes. The winning team included:

  • Jiyong Yu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Namrata Mantri, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Josep Torrellas, Saburo Muroga Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  • Adam Morrison, assistant professor, Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University
  • Christopher W. Fletcher, assistant professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Second place: “Transys – Leveraging Common Security Properties Across HW Designs”

This research presents a methodology to translate security critical properties crafted for a particular hardware design to another design, both within and across architectures. The first work of its kind, Transys attempts to shape product security assurance more towards science than art, seeking to improve security assurance efficiency and scale by leveraging prior investments. For example, quality properties can be reused, enriched and extended from one design to another, reducing errors and misses through labor and expertise-intensive process. The winning team included:

  • Rui Zhang, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Cynthia Sturton, associate professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

More Context: For more information, visit the Technology@Intel blog.