Paper 2013/566

Attacking PUF-Based Pattern Matching Key Generators via Helper Data Manipulation

Jeroen Delvaux and Ingrid Verbauwhede


Physically Unclonable Functions (PUFs) provide a unique signature for integrated circuits (ICs), similar to a fingerprint for humans. They are primarily used to generate secret keys, hereby exploiting the unique manufacturing variations of an IC. Unfortunately, PUF output bits are not perfectly reproducible and non-uniformly distributed. To obtain a high-quality key, one needs to implement additional post-processing logic on the same IC. Fuzzy extractors are the well-established standard solution. Pattern Matching Key Generators (PMKGs) have been proposed as an alternative. In this work, we demonstrate the latter construction to be vulnerable against manipulation of its public helper data. Full key recovery is possible, although depending on system design choices. We demonstrate our attacks using a 4-XOR arbiter PUF, manufactured in 65nm CMOS technology. We also propose a simple but effective countermeasure.

Note: Major technical and editorial revision.

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Publication info
PUFsecret keyhelper datafuzzy extractorHamming distance
Contact author(s)
jeroen delvaux @ esat kuleuven be
2013-12-13: revised
2013-09-09: received
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      author = {Jeroen Delvaux and Ingrid Verbauwhede},
      title = {Attacking PUF-Based Pattern Matching Key Generators via Helper Data Manipulation},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2013/566},
      year = {2013},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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