Local Heating Attacks on Flash Memory Devices

Date Added: Jul 2009
Format: PDF

This paper shows how lasers can be used to implement modification attacks on EEPROM and Flash memory devices. This was achieved with inexpensive laser-diode module mounted on a microscope. By locally heating up a memory cell inside a memory array, the contents of the memory can be altered. As a result, the security of a semiconductor chip can be compromised. Even if changing each individual bit is not possible due to the small size of a memory cell, cryptographic keys can still be recovered with brute force attacks. This paper also discusses the limits for the safe use of lasers in semi-invasive attacks without damaging the device under test.