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

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 hy- pothesis about the underlying micro-architectural features that explain the observed fault model.
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Submitted on : Monday, November 25, 2019 - 6:11:50 PM
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Brice Colombier, Alexandre Menu, Jean-Max Dutertre, Pierre-Alain Moëllic, Jean-Baptiste Rigaud, et al.. Laser-induced Single-bit Faults in Flash Memory: Instructions Corruption on a 32-bit Microcontroller. 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST), May 2019, McLean, United States. pp.1-10, ⟨10.1109/HST.2019.8741030⟩. ⟨hal-02344050⟩

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