Secure integrated circuit with physical attack detection based on reconfigurable top metal shield

Yeongjin Mun, Hyungseup Kim, Byeoncheol Lee, Kwonsang Han, Jaesung Kim, Ji Hoon Kim, Byong Deok Choi, Dong Kyue Kim, Hyoungho Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


—Invasive physical attacks on integrated circuits (ICs), such as de-packaging, focused ion beam (FIB) chip editing, and micro-probing attempts, constitute security threats for chips with potentially valuable information, such as smart cards. Using a state-of-the-art circuit-editing technique, an attacker can remove an IC’s top metal layer, leaving its secure information exposed to micro-probing attacks. Security ICs can be seriously threatened by such attacks and thus require on-chip countermeasures. Conventional active shields, however, have difficulty coping with physical attacks based on FIB chip editing (i.e., bypassing the top metal shield). This study presents a novel countermeasure against physical attacks based on the use of a reconfigurable metal shield for both top metal removal and micro-probing attack detection. This shield consists of two circuits: an FIB chip editing detection circuit consisting of a random number generator and a micro-probing attempt detection circuit consisting of two conditionally synchronized ring oscillators. Both circuits share a randomly reconfigured top metal shield, which represents a promising solution for security against state-of-the-art invasive attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-269
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Semiconductor Technology and Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Samsung Research Funding Center of Samsung Electronics under Project Number SRFC-IT1601-01. This research was also supported by IDEC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Institute of Electronics Engineers of Korea. All rights reserved.


  • Hardware security
  • Index Terms—Active shield
  • Invasive attack
  • Micro-probing attempt
  • Top metal shield


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