Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2003/119

How Secure Are FPGAs in Cryptographic Applications?

Thomas Wollinger and Christof Paar

Abstract: The use of FPGAs for cryptographic applications is highly attractive for a variety of reasons but at the same time there are many open issues related to the general security of FPGAs. This contribution attempts to provide a state-of-the-art description of this topic. First, the advantages of reconfigurable hardware for cryptographic applications are discussed from a systems perspective. Second, potential security problems of FPGAs are described in detail, followed by a proposal of a some countermeasure. Third, a list of open research problems is provided. Even though there have been many contributions dealing with the algorithmic aspects of cryptographic schemes implemented on FPGAs, this contribution appears to be the first comprehensive treatment of system and security aspects.

Category / Keywords: cryptography, FPGA, security, attacks, reconfigurable hardware, physical

Publication Info: FPL 2003, 1.-3- September 2003, Lisbon, Portugal

Date: received 5 Jun 2003

Contact author: wollinger at crypto rub de

Available format(s): Postscript (PS) | Compressed Postscript (PS.GZ) | PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20030606:155735 (All versions of this report)

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