Breaking a Password with Power Analysis Attacks

Breaking a Password with Power Analysis Attacks

In his previous column, Colin showed how timing attacks could be used to break a password check. This article brings out a more advanced type of attack called a power analysis attack, which exploits small leaks about internal states of … Continue reading

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Digital Guitar Amplifier/Effects Processor

This is a block diagram of the audio signal flow through the guitar amplifier.

Part 2: Design and Construction In the first part of this series, Brian introduced the Teensy 3.2 MCU module. Now he presents a digital guitar amplifier/effects unit that he built around two Teensy modules. By Brian Millier In the first … Continue reading

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Find and Eliminate Ground Loops

FIGURE 4: Ground isolator for three-prong powered appliances

Everything had been fine with my home entertainment center—comprising a TV, surround-sound amplifier, an AM/FM tuner, a ROKU, and a CD/DVD/BlueRay player—until I connected my desktop PC, which stores many of my music and video files on one of its … Continue reading

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Robots with a Vision

In M1’s IR sensor array, each LED is
fired in turn and detected reflections are latched by
the 74HC259 into an eight-bit byte.

Machine chine vision is a field of electrical engineering that’s changing how we interact with our environment, as well as the ways by which machines communicate with each other. Circuit Cellar has been publishing articles on the subject since the … Continue reading

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Reliability and Failure Prediction: A New Take

Simulation results should be available in a two-phase post-processor for each simulation, providing broad input on the PCB’s behavior under the defined conditions.

HALT methodology has been a popular way to test harsh environment reliability. A new approach involves PCB design simulation for vibration and acceleration for deeper yet faster analyses. By Craig Armenti & Dave Wiens—Mentor Board Systems Division Many electronic products … Continue reading

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Power Analysis of a Software DES Encryption Routine

The EFF’s “Deep Crack” board could brute force a DES key in a matter of days. (Photo courtesy of Electronic Frontier Foundation)

This article continues the foray into breaking software security routines, now targeting a software implementation of DES. This builds on a previous example of breaking a hardware AES example. By Colin O’Flynn In the previous column, I broke a simple … Continue reading

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How-To Guide for Timing Analysis

Photo 1: I used Timing Diagrammer Pro for the timing analysis of the simplified digital circuit. Note that the gray areas on the waveform denote regions of uncertainty. The red areas show a timing violation.

Although many young engineers have been taught excellent circuit design techniques, most haven’t been schooled about the importance of timing analysis. What is timing analysis? Why is timing analysis important? How do you perform timing analysis? Philip Nowe’s Circuit Cellar … Continue reading

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Vintage Programming Languages

PHOTO 1: An online emulator for my old Apple II

For the last 30 years, C has been my programming language of choice. As you probably know, C was invented in the early 1970s by Dennis M. Ritchie for the first UNIX kernel and ran on a DEC PDP-11 computer. I … Continue reading

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Bipolar Transistor Biasing

Figure 1
This NPN bipolar junction transistor is wired in the common-emitter configuration, meaning its emitter is grounded. Two basic equations dictate its behavior.

Going back to the basics is never a bad idea. Many electronics engineers are fluent with complex systems—such as microcontrollers, embedded OSes, or FPGAs—but seem to have more difficulties with single transistors. What a shame! A transistor can be a … Continue reading

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3-D Object Segmentation for Robot Handling

Photo 1
The InMoov robot built at Portland State University’s robotics lab

A commercial humanoid service robot needs to have capabilities to perform human-like tasks. One such task for a robot in a medical scenario would be to provide medicine to a patient. The robot would need to detect the medicine bottle … Continue reading

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Reflections on Software Development

FIGURE 1: Simplified software design process documentation. Testing, verification and validation (V&V) and control documents are not shown.

Present-day equipment relies on increasingly complex software, creating ever-greater demand for software quality and security. The two attributes, while similar in their effects, are different. A quality software is not necessarily secure, while a secure software is not necessarily of … Continue reading

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Understanding Embedded Security

Table 1: Take a look at each attacker class compared to available resources. As you can see, each class has specific
capabilities that will play a part in determining your product’s risk of attack.[2]

Protecting products and intellectual property (IP) from attackers is a fairly new concept that many engineers have not yet had to face. It is only a matter of time, though, until products—which are becoming more embedded and integrated with the … Continue reading

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Arduino Program Timing

PHOTO 1 
Each of the digitalWrite() functions producing this pulse requires 5.1 µs, roughly 50 instructions, on the 16 MHz ATmega328 microcontroller. The Arduino loop() adds 0.40 µs to the low portion of the waveform.

Ed Nisely explains how output pulses can reveal the progress of invisible firmware routines. After presenting a straightforward way to instrument your code, he covers the detailed timing produced by Arduino statements and functions. While writing the Arduino program for … Continue reading

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Analog Tips & Tricks

The top image is the top copper layer from
an EAGLE board design. The bare board shows several
flaws, but the one on the bottom came out fine. The
ruler scales are 0.050″ vertically and 1 mm horizontally.
The board has extremely small features!

Are you looking for ways to improve your analog and RF circuitry? Engineer Ed Nisley provides a few tips for getting started. He shows you how easy it is to take your PCB wiring skills to the next level. Who … Continue reading

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Debugging Embedded Systems with Minimal Resources

This is the schematic for a serial port
RS-232 driver. It's a standardized
circuit that plugs into a header on the
board to be debugged.

Debugging an embedded system can be difficult when you’re dealing with either a simple system with few pins or a complex system with nearly every pin in use. Stuart Ball provides some tips to make debugging such systems a little … Continue reading

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