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Efficient attack-surface exploration for electromagnetic fault injection

Carta, Daniele Antonio Emanuele; Zaccaria, Vittorio; Molteni, Maria Chiara; Quagliarella, Gabriele

Electromagnetic Fault Injection is a physical attack that aims to disrupt the operation of hardware circuits to bypass existing confidentiality and integrity protections. The success probability of the attack depends, among other things, on many different variables such as the probe used to inject the pulse, its position, the pulse intensity, and duration. The number of such parameter combinations and the stochastic nature of the induced faults make a comprehensive search of the parameter space impractical. However, it is of utmost importance for hardware circuit manufacturers to identify these vulnerability points efficiently and introduce countermeasures to mitigate them. This work presents a methodology to efficiently identify the subregion of the attack parameter space that maximizes the occurrence of a informative fault. The idea of this work consists in applying a multidimensional bisection method and exploiting the equilibrium between a pulse that is too strong and one that is too weak to produce a disruption on the circuit’s operation. We show that such a methodology can outperform existing methods on a concrete, state-of-the-art embedded multicore platform.

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