Journal Article

On the pitfalls of using arbiter-PUFs as building blocks

IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems 34 (8): 1295–1307
Subject(s): Information technology and systems
Keyword(s): Protocols, delays, authentication, error correction codes, computational modeling, buildings, evolution strategies, physical unclonable functions, machine learning, reverse fuzzy extractor

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 and one based on pattern matching. 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, this paper 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.

Copyright © 2014 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc

Volume 34
Issue 8
Pages 1295–1307