course: Physical Attacks and Countermeasures

teaching methods:
lecture with tutorials
responsible person:
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Amir Moradi
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Amir Moradi (ETIT), M. Sc. Thorben Moos (ETIT), M. Sc. Felix Wegener (ETIT)
offered in:
summer term

dates in summer term

  • start: Monday the 01.04.2019
  • lecture Mondays: from 14:15 to 15.45 o'clock in ID 03/471
  • tutorial Mondays: from 16:00 to 16.45 o'clock in ID 03/471
  • lab exercise Mondays: from 17:00 to 17.45 o'clock in ID 2/632


Form of exam:written
Registration for exam:FlexNow
Room : ID 04/413


The students

  • have Awareness of danger of cryptanalysis attacks targeting implementation of cryptographic algorithms
  • understand the kinds of physical attacks, their prerequisites, and their required conditions to work
  • know the countermeasure schemes to make a design protected against each physical attack


The modern cryptographic algorithms provide a reasonable level of security against the known mathematical and analytical cryptanalysis attacks. At the end the cryptographic algorithms are realized to be used in a security-enabled application. This realization is done by implementing the desired cryptographic algorithm using some program codes (in software) or using logic elements (in hardware). Physical access of the users to the cryptographic devices (e.g., a smartcard used for payment, a contactless card used for authentication, and smartphones) where a secret key is embedded brought a new form of attacks called physical attacks. This kind of attacks aims at extracting the secret key used by the cryptographic algorithm from the target implementation. Breaking a system by means of a physical attack does not infer to the weakness of the algorithm, but of the implementation. Therefore, considering such kinds of attack when designing a cryptographic device is a must. The goal of this lecture is to give an overview about the known physical attacks and most considerably the schemes developed to counter such a kind of attacks. In the first part of the lecture different kinds of physical attacks are introduced, while we focus later on countermeasures and the methods to make implementations resistant against the known physical attacks.



recommended knowledge

basic knowledge of data security and cryptography, a programming language (C++), computer architecture


Eva­lua­ti­on: The lec­tu­re is main­ly pro­ject and as­si­gnment ori­en­ted. There will be an exam (writ­ten or oral) in ad­di­ti­on to a pro­ject which stu­dents should do alone. Stu­dents who have good back­ground on eit­her soft­ware (as­sem­bly) or hard­ware (VHDL) im­ple­men­ta­ti­on and mo­de­ra­te know­ledge about elec­tri­cal en­gi­nee­ring are sup­po­sed to not have any se­rious pro­blem in the cour­se. Also, knowing ba­sics of si­gnal pro­ces­sing is a plus. The cour­se is an ideal pre­pa­ra­ti­on phase for stu­dents who do their Mas­ter/Di­plo­ma the­sis in the chair of Em­bed­ded Se­cu­ri­ty.