Hardware Fault Attack Detection Methods for Secure Embedded Systems

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

In our daily life, we are increasingly putting our trust in embedded software applications, which run on a range of processor-based embedded systems from smartcards to pay-TV units. This trend expands the threat model of embedded applications from software into hardware. Over the last 20 years, fault attacks have emerged as an important class of hardware attacks against embedded software security. In fault attacks, an adversary breaks the security by injecting well chosen, targeted faults during the execution of embedded software, and systematically analyzing softwares fault response.

In this work, we propose cycle-accurate and fully digital techniques that can efficiently detect different types of fault attacks. The detection methods are low-cost regarding the area and power consumption and can be easily implemented using the standard cell based VLSI design flow. In addition to the architecture of the detectors, we present a detailed analysis of the design considerations that affect the cost and accuracy of the detectors. The functionality of the detectors is validated by implementing on ASIC and FPGA platforms (Spartan-6, Cyclone IV). Additionally, the proposed detection methods have demonstrated to successfully detect all of the injected faults without any false alarm.

Fault Attack, Countermeasures, Detection, Clock glitching, Electromagnetic Fault Injection