At the COSIC group of the KU Leuven, we are developing a new set of courses focused on Secure Embedded Circuits & Systems. A traditional circuit designer typically has to balance 3 optimization goals: area, throughput, and power/energy consumption. Making the implementation of cryptographic algorithms and components physically secure adds a fourth optimization goal. The circuit implementation also has to resist physical attacks, both active (such as fault or probing) and passive (such as side-channel) attacks.

Part of the curriculum consists of hands-on experiments and lab sessions. The lab session will introduce the students to these 4 key challenges facing them when developing new embedded ICT circuits/systems: efficiency (in terms of occupied area and/or memory), performance (esp. for real-time applications), power and energy efficiency (for battery operated devices), and physical security (for cryptographic applications).

We will focus on 3 semester projects:

  1. Hardware/Software (HW/SW) co-design, where students learn the advantages/limitations of both design spaces while developing their own (simple) smart-card.
  2. Physically Uncloneable Functions (PUFs), where students will design a PUF and associated read-out circuitry and evaluate its applicability on a given security scenario.
  3. Side-Channel attacks and countermeasures, where students will learn about the threats posed by side-channel and fault attacks by attacking unsecured implementations.