Paper 2014/802

Physical Characterization of Arbiter PUFs

Shahin Tajik, Enrico Dietz, Sven Frohmann, Jean-Pierre Seifert, Dmitry Nedospasov, Clemens Helfmeier, Christian Boit, and Helmar Dittrich


As intended by its name, Physically Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are considered as an ultimate solution to deal with insecure stor- age, hardware counterfeiting, and many other security problems. How- ever, many different successful attacks have already revealed vulnera- bilities of certain digital intrinsic PUFs. Although settling-state-based PUFs, such as SRAM PUFs, can be physically cloned by semi-invasive and fully-invasive attacks, successful attacks on timing-based PUFs were so far limited to modeling attacks. Such modeling requires a large sub- set of challenge-response-pairs (CRP) to successfully model the targeted PUF. In order to provide a final security answer, this paper proves that all arbiter-based (i.e. controlled and XOR-enhanced) PUFs can be com- pletely and linearly characterized by means of photonic emission analy- sis. Our experimental setup is capable of measuring every PUF-internal delay with a resolution of 6 picoseconds. Due to this resolution we in- deed require only the theoretical minimum number of linear independent equations (i.e. physical measurements) to directly solve the underlying inhomogeneous linear system. Moreover, we neither require to know the actual PUF challenges nor the corresponding PUF responses for our physical delay extraction. On top of that devastating result, we are also able to further simplify our setup for easier physical measurement han- dling. We present our practical results for a real arbiter PUF implemen- tation on a Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) from Altera manufactured in a 180 nanometer process.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published by the IACR in CHES 2014
Contact author(s)
shahin @ sec t-labs tu-berlin de
2014-10-10: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Shahin Tajik and Enrico Dietz and Sven Frohmann and Jean-Pierre Seifert and Dmitry Nedospasov and Clemens Helfmeier and Christian Boit and Helmar Dittrich},
      title = {Physical Characterization of Arbiter {PUFs}},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2014/802},
      year = {2014},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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