Assessment of a Chip Backside Protection
Security-sensitive integrated circuits (ICs) are equipped with various hardware and software countermeasures which make them more secure. However, the chip backside is still exposed, and a proper countermeasure which is able to protect the ICs against physical and optical attacks through the silicon backside is required. This work presents the development, realization, and evaluation of a countermeasure concept for the IC backside against attack through the silicon backside, which is opaque to infrared light. This protection concept is able to detect any physical tampering on the IC backside. The IC backside, which is protected with an optically active layer and IC electronics, is used to create a signal to indicate a violation of the back surface. The advantages and drawbacks of the method are discussed. An assessment of the attacks through the chip backside, available countermeasures against them, and the properties of a proper protection structure are included.
KeywordsBackside protection IC security Backside attacks Optically active layer Physical attack
Our special thanks go out to the IHP (Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics, Frankfurt, Germany) for providing test chip space and structures. We would like to thank our colleagues Dr. Uwe Kerst for lab support and Stefan Keil and Andreas Eckert for sample preparation.
This research was supported by the Helmholtz Research School on Security Technologies (HRSST).
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