Physical Attacks and Inspection of Electronics

Published: May 9th, 2018

Category: News, Slider, Uncategorized

Dr. Navid Asadi Electrical and Computer Engineering FICS Research SCAN Lab Assistant Director, Assistant Professor will be teaching an innovative course entitled Physical Attacks and Inspections of Electronics EEL6935-13055.  The course will focus on the physical inspections, physical attacks, reverse engineering, counterfeit detection, etc. of electronics from the device to system level using advanced microscopy and failure analysis techniques.  In additions, students will also learn about the associated countermeasures.

The focus of this course is to first introduce the advanced techniques for physical inspection and attacks on electronic systems and components. More than ten modules will be discussed in this course to cover all aspects of this topic. The most recent techniques for physical inspection and attacks are based on the tools and methodologies developed for failure analysis (FA) in electronics. FA tools are primarily developed to detect a defect during or after fabrication process, but they have good enough resolution to detect Trojans, extract secret keys, or reverse engineer IC if used maliciously. Such tools include different imaging modalities such as an optical microscope, scanning electron microscope (SEM), focused ion beam (FIB), photon emission microscope (PEM), X-ray microscopy (XRM), etc. and probe stations, all of which are part of SCAN lab facilities at FICS Research. It is worth mentioning that these attacks require a very sophisticated sample preparation process to expose a targeted area for reverse engineering or other measurements.

Students will learn the basics of running such advanced microscopes and how they are used for physical inspection approaches including reverse engineering, counterfeit detection, invasive and semi-invasive attacks, on electronics from device to system level.


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