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glitch attack

A method for violating the security of a cryptographic coprocessor, such as a smart card, by disrupting the execution of one or more machine instructions. For example, the attacker carefully inspects the signals generated by the instruction sequence of the circuits. At the precise moment that a compare or jump instruction is executing, a high-speed external disturbance is applied, or the internal clock frequency is increased. This effectively blocks the instruction's execution, perhaps bypassing a critical authentication routine. Countermeasures for such an attack might be circuits that generate random patterns that cannot be easily analyzed. See cryptographic coprocessor.

cryptographic coprocessor

A hardware module that includes a processor that is specialized for encryption and related processing. Such devices are built with numerous protection features that prevent unauthorized retrieval of their data as well as from having their circuits reverse engineered. A cryptographic coprocessor may provide only encryption, or it may include certain transaction processing. For example, a smart card coprocessor includes smart card functions in order to house them in the same protective environment as the encryption algorithm. See glitch attack and cryptographic module.

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