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ISP2019 - PhD position - Hardware-attacks-resistant implementations of asymmetric authentication protocols for securing lightweight RFID tags

ABG-86070 Thesis topic
2019-06-12 < €25,000 annual gross
Idex université Grenoble Alpes
Grenoble - Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes - France
ISP2019 - PhD position - Hardware-attacks-resistant implementations of asymmetric authentication protocols for securing lightweight RFID tags
  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
Computer Engineering, Mathematics

Topic description

IDEX PROJECT TITLE: Elliptic Curve Cryptographic for Securing Lightweight RFID Tag

SUBJECT TITLE: Hardware-attacks-resistant implementations of asymmetric authentication protocols for securing lightweight RFID tags

RESEARCH FIELD (cf mots clefs sur Euraxess Jobs): Computer Engineering, Mathematics



SUPERVISOR’S NAME: Vincent Beroulle




Supervising team:


Vincent Beroulle, LCIS, Grenoble-INP, France,

Yann Kieffer, LCIS, Grenoble-INP, France,

Xuan-Tu Tran, Key Laboratory for Smart Integrated Systems, VNU,




RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a largely used low cost wireless technology for remote identification. Two important example applications are access control and product tracking in manufacturing. The RFID tags receive their energy from the reader, meaning that they can operate without any batteries, but also have many strict design constraints.


RFID security in the marketplace is exclusively based on symmetric key cryptosystems. But symmetric key cryptosystems imply difficult key management. Asymmetric key cryptosystems alleviate these difficulties in principle, but have higher costs, especially in terms of equivalent gate number and/or power consumption.


Additionnaly, attacks on the RFID security provided by cryptography can happen on two levels: the protocol itself can be attacked, or its hardware implementation can be attacked. Few research works have focused on hardware attacks for RFID security protocol implementations, and none have addressed fault attacks.


Proposed work

The aims of this research work are twofold. The first aim is the implementation, using the knowledge gathered from the state of the art, of a strong asymmetric authentication protocol for RFID, which respects RFID design constraints, such as size (number of gates) and power constraints. This implementation will first target an FPGA for validation. The second and main aim of the work is to enhance this implementation in order for it to resist both side channel attacks and fault attacks. This enhanced implementation will have to be validated against these attacks by using the attack platform available at LCIS. Then, as a final step, the equivalent number of gates and power consumption of an IC implementation will be evaluated, in order to validate that it is usable as an actual RFID tag.

Starting date


Funding category

Public funding alone (i.e. government, region, European, international organization research grant)

Funding further details

Presentation of host institution and host laboratory

Idex université Grenoble Alpes

One of the major research-intensive French universities, Univ. Grenoble Alpes** enjoys an international reputation in many scientific fields, as confirmed by international rankings. It benefits from the implementation of major European instruments (ESRF, ILL, EMBL, IRAM, EMFL* ). The vibring ecosystem, grounded on a close interaction between research, education and companies, has earned Grenoble to be ranked as the 5th most innovative city in the world. Surrounded by mountains, the campus benefits from a natural environment and a high quality of life and work environment. With 7000 foreign students and the annual visit of more than 8000 researchers from all over the world, Univ. Grenoble Alps is an internationally engaged university.
A personalized Welcome Center for international students, PhDs and researchers facilitates your arrival and installation.
In 2016, Univ. Grenoble Alpes was labeled «Initiative of Excellence ". This label aims at the emergence of around ten French world class research universities. By joining Univ. Grenoble Alpes, you have the opportunity to conduct world-class research, and to contribute to the social and economic challenges of the 21st century ("sustainable planet and society", "health, well-being and technology", "understanding and supporting innovation: culture, technology, organizations" "Digital technology").
* ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility), ILL (Institut Laue-Langevin), IRAM (International Institute for Radio Astronomy), EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory), EMFL (European Magnetic Field Laboratory)

Key figures:
• + 50,000 students including 7,000 international students
• 3,700 PhD students, 45% international
• 5,500 faculty members
• 180 different nationalities
• 1st city in France where it feels good to study and 5th city where it feels good to work
• ISSO: International Students & Scholars Office affiliated to EURAXESS

PhD title

Hardware-attacks-resistant implementations of asymmetric authentication protocols for securing lightweight RFID tags

Country where you obtained your PhD


Institution awarding doctoral degree

Univ.Grenoble Alpes

Graduate school

Ecole Doctorale Electronique Electrotechnique Automatique et Traitement du signal (EEATS)

Double degree


Pays d'obtention du doctorat en cotutelle


Etablissement délivrant le doctorat en cotutelle

VNU University of Engineering and technology

Candidate's profile

Required skills


- Knowledge and experience of VLSI design principles and VLSI design languages

- FPGA prototyping

- Ability to learn abstract mathematical notions, especially algebra

- Previous knowledge of asymmetric cryptography is welcome, but not mandatory

- A good command of English is required

- Good reading and writing skills for scientific and technical documents



Applicants must hold a Master's degree (or be about to earn one) or have a university degree equivalent to a European Master's (5-year duration),


Applicants will have to send an application letter in English and attach:

- Their last diploma

- Their CV

- A short presentation of their scientific project (2 to 3 pages max)

- Letters of recommendation are welcome.

Application deadline

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