International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


PreMSat: Preventing Magnetic Saturation Attack on Hall Sensors

Anomadarshi Barua , University of California, Irvine, Irvine, U.S.A.
Mohammad Abdullah Al Faruque , University of California, Irvine, Irvine, U.S.A.
DOI: 10.46586/tches.v2022.i4.438-462
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Abstract: Spoofing a passive Hall sensor with fake magnetic fields can inject false data into the downstream of connected systems. Several works have tried to provide a defense against the intentional spoofing to different sensors over the last six years. However, they either only work on active sensors or against externally injected unwanted weak signals (e.g., EMIs, acoustics, ultrasound, etc.), which can only spoof sensor output in its linear region. However, they do not work against a strong magnetic spoofing attack that can drive the passive Hall sensor output in its saturation region. We name this as the saturation attack. In the saturation region, the output gets flattened, and no information can be retrieved, resulting in a denial-of-service attack on the sensor.Our work begins to fill this gap by providing a defense named PreMSat against the saturation attack on passive Hall sensors. The core idea behind PreMSat is that it cangenerate an internal magnetic field having the same strength but in opposite polarity to external magnetic fields injected by an attacker. Therefore, the generated internal magnetic field by PreMSat can nullify the injected external field while preventing: (i) intentional spoofing in the sensor’s linear region, and (ii) saturation attack in the saturation region. PreMSat integrates a low-resistance magnetic path to collect the injected external magnetic fields and utilizes a finely tuned PID controller to nullify the external fields in real-time. PreMSat can prevent the magnetic saturation attack having a strength up to ∼4200 A-t within a frequency range of 0 Hz–30 kHz with low cost (∼$14), whereas the existing works cannot prevent saturation attacks with any strength. Moreover, it works against saturation attacks originating from any type, such as constant, sinusoidal, and pulsating magnetic fields. We did over 300 experiments on ten different industry-used Hall sensors from four different manufacturers to prove the efficacy of PreMSat and found that the correlation coefficient between the signals before the attack and after the attack is greater than 0.94 in every test case. Moreover, we create a prototype of PreMSat and evaluate its performance in a practical system — a grid-tied solar inverter. We find that PreMSat can satisfactorily prevent the saturation attack on passive Hall sensors in real-time.
  title={PreMSat: Preventing Magnetic Saturation Attack on Hall Sensors},
  journal={IACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems},
  publisher={Ruhr-Universität Bochum},
  volume={2022, Issue 4},
  author={Anomadarshi Barua and Mohammad Abdullah Al Faruque},