News Column

Patent Issued for Microcircuit Card Protected by a Fuse

August 26, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Technology -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Morin, Nicolas (Levallois Perret, FR); Giraud, Christophe (Levallois Perret, FR), filed on December 13, 2011, was published online on August 12, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8806623, is Oberthur Technologies (Levallois Perret, FR).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention is situated in the field of protection of electronic modules.

"It applies especially, but without limitation, to the protection of a microcircuit card, for example one complying with the ISO 7816 standard.

"Within the scope of protection of microcircuit cards against fault injection attacks, a known countermeasure is to write a predetermined value into a reserved area of a nonvolatile memory of the card that is writable only once, known to the person skilled in the art by the acronym OTP (One Time Programmable).

"The invention addresses an alternative solution."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "More precisely, the invention relates to a module including:

"means for detecting an attack on this module; and

"command means capable of blowing a fuse of the module when an attack is detected.

"In a particular embodiment of the invention, the command means are capable of commanding the charging of a capacitor during normal operation (that is to say, when no attack is detected) and to command the discharging of this capacitor for blowing the fuse when an attack is detected.

"The blowing of this fuse physically prevents the card from operating.

"Thanks to the invention, an attacker is not able to prevent the destruction of the fuse.

"In a particular embodiment of the invention, the module includes a NOT gate connected in series with the fuse, the output of this gate being a control signal the level whereof is high during normal operation and low when an attack is detected, this control signal being used to maintain a vital signal of the module when an attack is detected.

"This vital signal can be selected from among a reset signal, a clock signal or an input/output signal connected with equipment external to the module.

"In a particular embodiment, the module includes, at the output of the fuse, a control signal capable of controlling a switch controlling the power supply to a component vital to the module.

"This component can consist of a processor.

"The switch can be a PMOS transistor.

"In a particular embodiment, the module according to the invention consists of a microcircuit card complying with the ISO 7816 standard."

For more information, see this patent: Morin, Nicolas; Giraud, Christophe. Microcircuit Card Protected by a Fuse. U.S. Patent Number 8806623, filed December 13, 2011, and published online on August 12, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Oberthur Technologies.

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Source: Journal of Technology

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