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Differential fault analysis attack

Differential fault analysis attack definition

A differential fault analysis attack is a technique where an attacker intentionally introduces faults or errors into a cryptographic system or device to exploit vulnerabilities and extract sensitive information. After introducing the faults, the attacker observes and analyzes the discrepancies between faulty and correct outputs. By analyzing these discrepancies, the attacker can gain knowledge about the system’s internal mechanisms (including secret information).

See also: active attack

How differential fault analysis attacks work

  • Introducing faults. The attacker deliberately manipulates the target system. They do so by introducing physical or electrical faults during the execution of cryptographic operations (e.g., altering the power supply, injecting electromagnetic interference, or modifying data inputs).
  • Observing differences. The attacker compares the faulty outputs of the cryptographic system with the correct outputs to identify any variations or differences caused by the introduced faults. These differences can reveal valuable information about the system's internal workings or secret keys.
  • Analyzing differences. The attacker carefully analyzes the differences to detect patterns or relationships that provide insights into the underlying cryptographic algorithms, secret keys, or sensitive data. The attacker can exploit this information to compromise the security of the system.

Preventing differential fault analysis attacks

  • Hardware security.
  • Secure supply chain.
  • Error detection and correction.
  • Secure implementation.
  • Security audits.
  • Continuous monitoring.