Is Hardware Security Prepared for Unexpected Discoveries?
Hardware Security of semiconductor chips is in high demand these days. Modern electronic devices are expected to have high level of protection against many known attack aimed at the extraction of stored information. This is especially important for devices used in critical areas like automotive, medical, banking and industrial control applications. This leads to a constant arms race between attackers and developers. Usually new attacks are disclosed in a responsible way leaving time for chip manufacturers and system engineers to develop countermeasures. However, there is always a chance that mitigation technology is not developed in time, or worse, not practical to implement. Are the engineers in semiconductor community prepared for such an outcome? This paper looks at the history of similar discoveries in different areas and gives some results on memory extraction from an old smartcard and approaching highly secure embedded memory – battery-backed SRAM. Finally this paper elaborates on possible discoveries in attacks aimed at stored information. The aim of this paper is to raise awareness of emerging attacks to inspire new mitigation techniques to be developed in appropriate and timely way.