International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Vincent Immler


Secure Physical Enclosures from Covers with Tamper-Resistance 📺
Ensuring physical security of multiple-chip embedded systems on a PCB is challenging, since the attacker can control the device in a hostile environment. To detect physical intruders as part of a layered approach to security, it is common to create a physical security boundary that is difficult to penetrate or remove, e.g., enclosures created from tamper-respondent envelopes or covers. Their physical integrity is usually checked by active sensing, i.e., a battery-backed circuit continuously monitors the enclosure. However, adoption is often hampered by the disadvantages of a battery and due to specialized equipment which is required to create the enclosure. In contrast, we present a batteryless tamper-resistant cover made from standard flexPCB technology, i.e., a commercially widespread, scalable, and proven technology. The cover comprises a fine mesh of electrodes and an evaluation unit underneath the cover checks their integrity by detecting short and open circuits. Additionally, it measures the capacitances between the electrodes of the mesh. Once its preliminary integrity is confirmed, a cryptographic key is derived from the capacitive measurements representing a PUF, to decrypt and authenticate sensitive data of the enclosed system. We demonstrate the feasibility of our concept, provide details on the layout, electrical properties of the cover, and explain the underlying security architecture. Practical results including statistics over a set of 115 flexPCB covers, physical attacks, and environmental testing support our design rationale. Hence, our work opens up a new direction of counteracting physical tampering without the need of batteries, while aiming at a physical security level comparable to FIPS 140-2 level 3.
New Insights to Key Derivation for Tamper-Evident Physical Unclonable Functions 📺
Vincent Immler Karthik Uppund
Several publications presented tamper-evident Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) for secure storage of cryptographic keys and tamper-detection. Unfortunately, previously published PUF-based key derivation schemes do not sufficiently take into account the specifics of the underlying application, i.e., an attacker that tampers with the physical parameters of the PUF outside of an idealized noise error model. This is a notable extension of existing schemes for PUF key derivation, as they are typically concerned about helper data leakage, i.e., by how much the PUF’s entropy is diminished when gaining access to its helper data.To address the specifics of tamper-evident PUFs, we formalize the aspect of tamper-sensitivity, thereby providing a new tool to rate by how much an attacker is allowed to tamper with the PUF. This complements existing criteria such as effective number of secret bits for entropy and failure rate for reliability. As a result, it provides a fair comparison among different schemes and independent of the PUF implementation, as its unit is based on the noise standard deviation of the underlying PUF measurement. To overcome the limitations of previous schemes, we then propose an Error-Correcting Code (ECC) based on the Lee metric, i.e., a distance metric well-suited to describe the distance between q-ary symbols as output from an equidistant quantization, i.e., a higher-order alphabet PUF. This novel approach is required, as the underlying symbols’ bits are not i.i.d. which hinders applying previous state-of-the-art approaches. We present the concept for our scheme and demonstrate its feasibility based on an empirical PUF distribution. The benefits of our approach are an increase by over 21% in effective secret bit compared to previous approaches based on equidistant quantization. At the same time, we improve tamper-sensitivity compared to an equiprobable quantization while ensuring similar reliability and entropy. Hence, this work opens up a new direction of how to interpret the PUF output and details a practically relevant scheme outperforming all previous constructions.
Your Rails Cannot Hide from Localized EM: How Dual-Rail Logic Fails on FPGAs
Protecting cryptographic implementations against side-channel attacks is a must to prevent leakage of processed secrets. As a cell-level countermeasure, so called DPA-resistant logic styles have been proposed to prevent a data-dependent power consumption.As most of the DPA-resistant logic is based on dual-rails, properly implementing them is a challenging task on FPGAs which is due to their fixed architecture and missing freedom in the design tools.While previous works show a significant security gain when using such logic on FPGAs, we demonstrate this only holds for power-analysis. In contrast, our attack using high-resolution electromagnetic analysis is able to exploit local characteristics of the placement and routing such that only a marginal security gain remains, therefore creating a severe threat.To further analyze the properties of both attack and implementation, we develop a custom placer to improve the default placement of the analyzed AES S-box. Different cost functions for the placement are tested and evaluated w.r.t. the resulting side-channel resistance on a Spartan-6 FPGA. As a result, we are able to more than double the resistance of the design compared to cases not benefiting from the custom placement.