The low area probing detector as a countermeasure against invasive attacks

Michael Weiner, Salvador Manich, Rosa Rodríguez-Montañés, Georg Sigl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


— Microprobing allows intercepting data from on-chip wires as well as injecting faults into data or control lines. This makes it a commonly used attack technique against security-related semiconductors, such as smart card controllers. We present the low area probing detector (LAPD) as an efficient approach to detect microprobing. It compares delay differences between symmetric lines such as bus lines to detect timing asymmetries introduced by the capacitive load of a probe. Compared with state-of-the-art microprobing countermeasures from industry, such as shields or bus encryption, the area overhead is minimal and no delays are introduced; in contrast to probing detection schemes from academia, such as the probe attempt detector, no analog circuitry is needed. We show the Monte Carlo simulation results of mismatch variations as well as process, voltage, and temperature corners on a 65-nm technology and present a simple reliability optimization. Eventually, we show that the detection of state-of-the-art commercial microprobes is possible even under extreme conditions and the margin with respect to false positives is sufficient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8097013
Pages (from-to)392-403
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Data buses
  • Digital integrated circuits
  • Invasive attacks
  • Microprobing
  • Security
  • Smart cards


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