Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2018/1042

Laser-induced Single-bit Faults in Flash Memory: Instructions Corruption on a 32-bit Microcontroller

Brice Colombier and Alexandre Menu and Jean-Max Dutertre and Pierre-Alain Moëllic and Jean-Baptiste Rigaud and Jean-Luc Danger

Abstract: Physical attacks are a known threat posed against secure embedded systems. Notable among these is laser fault injection, which is often considered as the most effective fault injection technique. Indeed, laser fault injection provides a high spatial accuracy, which enables an attacker to induce bit-level faults. However, experience gained from attacking 8-bit targets might not be relevant on more advanced micro-architectures, and these attacks become increasingly challenging on 32-bit microcontrollers. In this article, we show that the flash memory area of a 32-bit microcontroller is sensitive to laser fault injection. These faults occur during the instruction fetch process, hence the stored value remains unaltered. After a thorough characterisation of the induced faults and the associated fault model, we provide detailed examples of bit-level corruption of instructions and demonstrate practical applications in compromising the security of real-life codes. Based on these experimental results, we formulate a hypothesis about the underlying micro-architectural features that explain the observed fault model.

Category / Keywords: applications / Fault attack, laser injection, flash memory

Original Publication (in the same form): IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust

Date: received 26 Oct 2018, last revised 26 Feb 2019

Contact author: b colombier at univ-st-etienne fr

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20190226:143620 (All versions of this report)

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