Patent published on July 27, 2023

Microsoft's Patent to Thwart PIN Attacks with Advanced TPM Implementation

We live in an age where our digital identities are incredibly valuable assets, and it’s no surprise that cybercriminals are doing their best to find ways to steal them. One of the most common methods of attack is the PIN state replay attack, which involves a malicious actor attempting to guess a user’s PIN in order to gain access to sensitive data.

Fortunately, Microsoft has developed a new system that could protect against this form of attack. The technology, which was recently patented with the US20230237154A1, uses programmable fuses and on-die RAM to store information about failed PIN attempts. If the PIN is correct, the count is cleared, but if it’s incorrect, a fuse is blown and the count is incremented.

This technology is implemented through Microsoft’s trusted platform module, or TPM, which is a security-related piece of software that stores cryptographic keys. If a malicious actor attempts to guess a user’s PIN, the TPM will only release the sensitive keys if the correct PIN is entered. As such, it’s an invaluable tool for protecting people’s digital identities.

Microsoft’s patent provides an additional layer of security for users by introducing a fuse-based system that will update and save the count of failed PIN attempts. If a malicious actor attempts to guess the PIN, they won’t be able to do so after a certain number of wrong guesses, as the fuse is blown and the count is incremented. This makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data.

The technology also introduces countermeasures for fuse voltage cut attacks, which are a type of attack that attempts to bypass the fuse-based system. The countermeasures involve using aggressive or conservative fuse usage, depending on the security needs of the user. This ensures that the system is as secure as possible in all scenarios.

Although this patent has been granted, there’s no guarantee that the technology will be available to the public. Microsoft may decide to keep it to themselves, or they may choose to develop it further and make it available to users. However, the fact that they have patented it is a promising sign that this technology could help protect people against PIN state replay attacks in the near future.

Microsoft’s patent US20230237154A1 is a great example of how technology can be used to protect people’s digital identities. The fuse-based system and countermeasures for fuse voltage cut attacks could make it much harder for malicious actors to guess users’ PINs and gain access to sensitive data. While there’s no guarantee that this technology will be released to the public, it’s certainly an exciting development that could make a huge difference in the fight against cybercrime.

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