Smart card security

Goikoetxea Yanci, Asier (2012) Smart card security. EngD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Smart Card devices are commonly used on many secure applications where there is a need to identify the card holder in order to provide a personalised service. The value of access to locked data and services makes Smart Cards a desirable attack target for hackers of all sorts. The range of attacks a Smart Card and its environment can be subjected to ranges from social engineering to exploiting hardware and software bugs and features.

This research has focused on several hardware related attacks and potential threats. Namely, power glitch attack, power analysis, laser attack, the potential effect on security of memory power consumption reduction techniques and using a re-configurable instruction set as method to harden opcode interpretation.

A semi-automated simulation environment to test designs against glitch attacks and power analysis has been developed. This simulation environment can be easily integrated within Atmel’s design flow to bring assurance of their designs’ behaviour and permeability to such attacks at an early development stage. Previous power analysis simulation work focused on testing the implementation of part of the cryptographic algorithm. This work focuses on targeting the whole algorithm, allowing the test of a wider range of countermeasures.

A common glitch detection approach is monitoring the power supply for abnormal voltage values and fluctuations. This approach can fail to detect some fast glitches. The alternative approach used in this research monitors the effects of a glitch on a mono-stable circuit sensitive to fault injection by glitch attacks. This work has resulted in a patented glitch detector that improves the overall glitch detection range.

The use of radiation countermeasures as laser countermeasures and potential sensors has been investigated too. Radiation and laser attacks have similar effects on silicon devices. Whilst several countermeasures against radiation have been developed over the years, almost no explicit mention of laser countermeasures was found. This research has demonstrated the suitability of using some radiation countermeasures as laser countermeasures.

Memory partitioning is a static and dynamic power consumption reduction technique successfully used in various devices. The nature of Smart Card devices restricts the applicability of some aspects of this power reduction technique. This research line has resulted in the proposal of a memory partitioning approach suitable to Smart Cards.

Item Type: Thesis (EngD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Smart Card, security, glitch detector, attack, glitch attack, laser attack, laser countermeasures, memory partitioning, low power
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Arslan, Prof. Tughrul and Erdogan, Dr. Ahmet
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mr Asier Goikoetxea
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3091
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2012
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2017 11:19

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