Semi-invasive EM attack on FPGA RO PUFs and countermeasures

Dominik Merli, Dieter Schuster, Frederic Stumpf, Georg Sigl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

89 Scopus citations


It is often argued that Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are resistant against invasive and semi-invasive attacks since these attacks would damage the underlying PUF structure resulting in a different PUF response. In this paper, we demonstrate exemplarily that this assumption does not hold for a Ring Oscillator (RO) PUF implemented on a Xilinx Spartan 3 FPGA, where we were able to perform a semi-invasive attack. We present analysis methods to identify ring oscillator frequencies and to map them to their corresponding oscillators. We practically prove that it is possible to recover the generated RO PUF response bits with this approach. To harden RO PUFs against side-channel analysis, we also propose a RO PUF concept not leaking useful information through the side-channel of electro-magnetic radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Workshop on Embedded Systems Security, WESS'11
StatePublished - 2011
Event6th Workshop on Embedded Systems Security, WESS'11 - Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 9 Oct 201114 Oct 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Workshop on Embedded Systems Security, WESS'11


Conference6th Workshop on Embedded Systems Security, WESS'11
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China


  • Electro magnetic analysis
  • FPGA
  • Field programmable gate array
  • PUF
  • Physical unclonable function
  • Ring oscillator
  • SCA
  • Semi-invasive attack
  • Side-channel analysis


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