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Hardware Security Implications of Reliability, Remanence, and Recovery in Embedded Memory

Authors
  • Skorobogatov, Sergei1
  • 1 University of Cambridge, Department of Computer Science and Technology, Cambridge, UK , Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Hardware and Systems Security
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Oct 11, 2018
Volume
2
Issue
4
Pages
314–321
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s41635-018-0050-5
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Secure semiconductor devices usually destroy key material on tamper detection. However, data remanence effect in SRAM and Flash/EEPROM makes secure erasure process more challenging. On the other hand, data integrity of the embedded memory is essential to mitigate fault attacks and Trojan malware. Data retention issues could influence the reliability of embedded systems. Some examples of such issues in industrial and automotive applications are presented. When it comes to the security of semiconductor devices, both data remanence and data retention issues could lead to possible data recovery by an attacker. This paper introduces a new power glitching technique that reduces the data remanence time in embedded SRAM from seconds to microseconds at almost no cost. This would definitely help in designing systems with better secret key guarding. Data remanence in non-volatile memory could be influenced in the same way. The effect of data remanence and data retention on hardware security is discussed and possible countermeasures are suggested. This should raise awareness among the designers of secure embedded systems.

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