On the Pitfalls of using Arbiter-PUFs as Building Blocks

Georg T. Becker

IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, TCAD, 34 (8):1-13, August 2015


Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) have emerged as a promising solution for securing resource-constrained embedded devices such as RFID tokens. PUFs use the inherent physical differences of every chip to either securely authenticate the chip or generate cryptographic keys without the need of nonvolatile memory. However, PUFs have shown to be vulnerable to model building attacks if the attacker has access to challenge and response pairs. In these model building attacks, machine learning is used to determine the internal parameters of the PUF to build an accurate software model. Nevertheless, PUFs are still a promising building block and several protocols and designs have been proposed that are believed to be resistant against machine learning attacks. In this paper we take a closer look at two such protocols, one based on reverse fuzzy extractors [10] and one based on pattern matching [15], [17]. We show that it is possible to attack these protocols using machine learning despite the fact that an attacker does not have access to direct challenge and response pairs. The introduced attacks demonstrate that even highly obfuscated responses can be used to attack PUF protocols. Hence, our work shows that even protocols in which it would be computationally infeasible to compute enough challenge and response pairs for a direct machine learning attack can be attacked using machine learning.

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tags: Evolution Strategies, machine learning, Physical Unclonable Functions, Reverse Fuzzy Extractor