Physically Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are used to uniquely identify electronic components and to protect valuable objects against counterfeiting. They allow creating a root of trust in a hardware system through generating device-unique "fingerprints" and deriving secret keys from the underlying physical properties of the silicon. Today they are typically found in specially designed hardware components and result from the silicon properties of individual transistors. They exist in many forms, among which are the so-called SRAM PUFs.

The Physically unclonable functions found in standard PC components (PUFFIN) project intends to study and show the existence of SRAM PUFs and other types of PUFs in standard PCs, laptops, mobile phones and consumer electronics. This has not been attempted so far. The mere existence of physical properties that depend on a component and are reproducible is only the first step to guarantee appropriate robustness, reliability and randomness properties for use as secret keys or trust anchors in mass-market applications. By uncovering the security properties of PUFs in standard components such as graphical processing units, central processing units and PCI connectors, this project will provide the first intrinsic and long-wanted basis for security in everyone's most common computing platforms: standard PCs and similar hardware. This new root of trust in turn adds security for mass-market applications, replacing or complementing the role of a trusted platform module and enabling security for applications such as broadcast applications, content protection for the gaming industry and secure day-to-day transactions for everyone. The results of the project will allow for the first time an a priori open platform, the most difficult element to secure in an information-technology system today, to inherit security properties from its own identity and its intrinsic physical properties.

Here is a slide deck showcasing some of the highlights of PUFFIN results.

Last modified: 2015.03.03