The security of modern electronic devices relies on secret keys stored on secure hardware modules as the root-of-trust (RoT). Extracting those keys would break the security of the entire system. As shown before, sophisticated side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks, using chip failure analysis (FA) techniques, can extract data from on-chip memory cells. However, since the chip’s layout is unknown to the adversary in practice, secret key localization and reverse engineering are onerous tasks. Consequently, hardware vendors commonly believe that the ever-growing physical complexity of the integrated circuit (IC) designs can be a natural barrier against potential adversaries. In this work, we present a novel approach that can extract the secret key without any knowledge of the IC’s layout, and independent from the employed memory technology as key storage. We automate the – traditionally very labor intensive – reverse engineering and data extraction process. To that end, we demonstrate that black-box measurements captured using laser-assisted SCA techniques from a training device with known key can be used to profile the device for a later key prediction on other victim devices with unknown keys. To showcase the potential of our approach, we target keys on three different hardware platforms, which are utilized as RoT in different products.
The reason I found this article was I got curious about how much it really costs these days to attempt to extract secrets from nonvolatile memory. The numbers are surprisingly low for the chips where this technique would work.