Fault Injection Attack

A fault injection attack is a cyberattack in which the attacker generates “faults” in a system to make it behave irregularly. The attack often aims to circumvent security measures and give the attacker unrestricted access to sensitive data.

While fault injection isn’t entirely unethical or dangerous, software testers use it to assess how a program responds to any unexpected errors in its code. They intentionally inject these faults and take note of the outcomes. Cybercriminals use this process differently and for malicious purposes.

How does a fault injection attack work?

  • The hacker must first identify a target system, which could be anything from a computer server to a small electronic device.
  • After that, the attacker injects a fault in the target. This can be achieved in a couple of ways. The attacker could mess with the system’s software by altering its code or hardware by manipulating the device or electrical inputs. The attacker could also send malformed data packets to interfere with its network.
  • Once the error has been induced, the hacker will attempt to exploit it. 
  • The unique methods and aims of the attack can vary depending on the target and the attacker’s objectives. 

How to prevent fault injection attacks

  • Safe coding practices: Inculcating better coding practices can help reduce software-based fault injection attacks. Practices such as input validation and error checking. Another great piece of advice is to use programming languages or compilers that offer strong type-checking and memory management features.
  • Error checking: Always include redundant components and carry out regular checkups for system errors. The combination helps prevent any hardware-based faults from leading to major security issues.
  • Encryption: Strong encryption for data in transit can reduce network-based fault injection attacks and block any from revealing sensitive data. You also secure communication protocols to ensure data integrity and authenticity and prevent attackers from injecting malicious data packets.
  • Regular security testing: Frequent penetration testing and vulnerability assessments can help pinpoint potential areas for fault injection attacks.
  • Access controls: The use of secure access controls can block an attacker from gaining access and performing a fault injection attack. These access control measures must include physical (for hardware systems) and logical (for software systems and data).