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Integrated circuits get two-in-one protection against hardware attacks

​CEA-Leti has developed an innovative secure integrated circuit packaging technology that protects against eavesdropping and electromagnetic interference attacks. 

Published on 14 December 2021

​Chaxa, an innovative circuit packaging technology developed and patented by CEA-Leti, is a two-in-one solution that provides passive and active protection against eavesdropping attacks to access sensitive data on the chip and fends off signal interference attacks.

A layer of ferrite particles is deposited on the chip's surface. It works like a soundproof wall that attenuates the signal emitted by the target so that malicious third parties can't eavesdrop. The shield also attenuates incoming signals injected by hackers, effectively protecting the circuit against electromagnetic (EM) fault injection attacks and other cyber disruptions.

In addition to the ferrite surface layer, which provides passive shielding, the solution also features ferrite coils on both sides of the chip. This magnetic field transceiver generates an active electromagnetic shield around the chip. A change in the signal circulating between the two coils is an early warning sign that a potential EM fault injection attack is present. Side channel attacks, which use measurements of the chip's electromagnetic field to find a way in, can also be headed off by varying the signal between the coils to generate random EM noise. Physical breaches of the ferrite layer are also detected instantly.

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