Side-Channel Security Analysis of Ultra-Low-Power FRAM-based MCUs

Amir Moradi, Gesine Hinterwälder

6th In­ter­na­tio­nal Work­shop on Con­struc­tive Si­de-Chan­nel Ana­ly­sis and Se­cu­re De­sign, CO­SA­DE 2015, Ber­lin, Ger­ma­ny, April 13-14, 2015 (best pa­per award).


Abstract

By shrinking the technology and reducing the energy requirements of integrated circuits, producing ultra-low-power devices has practically become possible. Texas Instruments as a pioneer in developing FRAM-based products announced a couple of different microcontroller (MCU) families based on the low-power and fast Ferroelectric RAM technology. Such MCUs come with embedded cryptographic module(s) as well as the assertion that - due to the underlying ultra-low-power technology - mounting successful side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks has become very difficult. In this work we practically evaluate this claimed hardness by means of state-of-the-art power analysis attacks. The leakage sources and corresponding attacks are presented in order to give an overview on the potential risks of making use of such platforms in security-related applications. In short, we partially confirm the given assertion. Some modules, e.g., the embedded cryptographic accelerator, can still be attacked but with slightly immoderate effort. On the contrary, the other leakage sources are easily exploitable leading to straightforward attacks being able to recover the secrets.

[pdf] [DOI]

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