Unprotected Confidential Information on Device is Accessible by OSAT Vendors

The product does not adequately protect confidential information on the device from being accessed by Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) vendors.


Description

In contrast to complete vertical integration of architecting, designing, manufacturing, assembling, and testing chips all within a single organization, an organization can choose to simply architect and design a chip before outsourcing the rest of the process to OSAT entities (e.g., external foundries and test houses). In the latter example, the device enters an OSAT facility in a much more vulnerable pre-production stage where many debug and test modes are accessible. Therefore, the chipmaker must place a certain level of trust with the OSAT. To counter this, the chipmaker often requires the OSAT partner to enter into restrictive non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Nonetheless, OSAT vendors likely have many customers, which increases the risk of accidental sharing of information. There may also be a security vulnerability in the information technology (IT) system of the OSAT facility. Alternatively, a malicious insider at the OSAT facility may carry out an insider attack. Considering these factors, it behooves the chipmaker to minimize any confidential information in the device that may be accessible to the OSAT vendor.

Logic errors during design or synthesis could misconfigure the interconnection of the debug components, which could provide improper authorization to sensitive information.

Demonstrations

The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

The following example shows how an attacker can take advantage of a piece of confidential information that has not been protected from the OSAT.

Suppose the preproduction device contains NVM (a storage medium that by definition/design can retain its data without power), and this NVM contains a key that can unlock all the parts for that generation. An OSAT facility accidentally leaks the key.

Compromising a key that can unlock all the parts of a generation can be devastating to a chipmaker.

The likelihood of such a compromise can be reduced by ensuring all memories on the preproduction device are properly scrubbed.

See Also

Manufacturing and Life Cycle Management Concerns

Weaknesses in this category are root-caused to defects that arise in the semiconductor-manufacturing process or during the life cycle and supply chain.

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