International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Si Gao


A Novel Framework for Explainable Leakage Assessment
Schemes such as Common Criteria or FIPS 140-3 require the assessment of cryptographic implementations with respect to side channels at high security levels. Instead of a ``penetration testing'' style approach where specific tests are carried out, FIPS 140-3 relies on non-specific ``leakage assessment'' to identify potential side channel leaks in implementations of symmetric schemes. Leakage assessment, as it is understood today, is based on a simple leakage detection testing regime. Leakage assessment to date, provides no evidence whether or not the potential leakage is exploitable in a concrete attack: if a device fails the test, (and therefore certification under the FIPS 140-3 scheme) it remains unclear why it fails. We propose a novel assessment regime that is based on a different statistical rational than the existing leakage detection tests. Our statistical approach enables non-specific detection (i.e. we do not require to specify intermediate values) whilst simultaneously generating evidence for designing an attack vector that exploits identified leakage. We do this via an iterative approach, based on building and comparing nested regression models. We also provide, for the first time, concrete definitions for concepts such as key leakage, exploitable leakage and explainable leakage. Finally, we illustrate our novel leakage assessment framework in the context of two open-sourced masked software implementations on a processor that is known to exhibit micro-architectural leakage.
A Novel Completeness Test for Leakage Models and its Application to Side Channel Attacks and Responsibly Engineered Simulators 📺
Today’sdside channel attack targets are often complex devices in which instructions are processed in parallel and work on 32-bit datae words. Consedsquently, the state that is involved in producing leakage in these modern devices is large, and basing evaluations (i.e. worst case attacks) and simulators, and on a potentially incomplete state can lead to wrong conclusions. We put forward a novel notion for the “completeness” of an assumed state, together with an efficient statistical test that is based on “collapsed models”. Our novel test can be used to recover a state that contains multiple 32-bit variables in a grey box setting. We illustrate how our novel test can help to guide side channel attacks and we reveal new attack vectors for existing implementations. We then demonstrate the application of this test in the context of leakage modelling for leakage simulators and confirm that even the most recent leakage simulators do not capture all available leakage of their respective target devices. Our new test enables finding nominal models that capture all available leakage but do not give a helping hand to adversaries. Thereby we make a first step towards leakage simulators that are responsibly engineered.
Towards Micro-Architectural Leakage Simulators: Reverse Engineering Micro-Architectural Leakage Features is Practical 📺
Leakage simulators offer the tantalising promise of easy and quick testing of software with respect to the presence of side channel leakage. The quality of their build in leakage models is therefore crucial, this includes the faithful inclusion of micro-architectural leakage. Microarchitectural leakage is a reality even on low- to mid-range commercial processors, such as the ARM Cortex M series. Dealing with it seems initially infeasible in a grey box setting: how should we describe it if micro-architectural elements are not publicly known? We demonstrate, for the first time, that it is feasible, using a recent leakage modelling technique, to reverse engineer significant elements of the micro-architectural leakage of a commercial processor. Our approach first recovers the micro-architectural leakage of each stage in the pipeline, and the leakage of elements that are known to produce glitches. Using the reverse engineered leakage features we build an enhanced version of the popular leakage simulator ELMO.
An Instruction Set Extension to Support Software-Based Masking 📺
In both hardware and software, masking can represent an effective means of hardening an implementation against side-channel attack vectors such as Differential Power Analysis (DPA). Focusing on software, however, the use of masking can present various challenges: specifically, it often 1) requires significant effort to translate any theoretical security properties into practice, and, even then, 2) imposes a significant overhead in terms of efficiency. To address both challenges, this paper explores the use of an Instruction Set Extension (ISE) to support masking in software-based implementations of a range of (symmetric) cryptographic kernels including AES: we design, implement, and evaluate such an ISE, using RISC-V as the base ISA. Our ISE-supported first-order masked implementation of AES, for example, is an order of magnitude more efficient than a software-only alternative with respect to both execution latency and memory footprint; this renders it comparable to an unmasked implementation using the same metrics, but also first-order secure.
FENL: an ISE to mitigate analogue micro-architectural leakage 📺
Ge et al. [GYH18] propose the augmented ISA (or aISA), a central tenet of which is the selective exposure of micro-architectural resources via a less opaque abstraction than normal. The aISA proposal is motivated by the need for control over such resources, for example to implement robust countermeasures against microarchitectural attacks. In this paper, we apply an aISA-style approach to challenges stemming from analogue micro-architectural leakage; examples include power-based Hamming weight and distance leakage from relatively fine-grained resources (e.g., pipeline registers), which are not exposed in, and so cannot be reliably controlled via, a normal ISA. Specifically, we design, implement, and evaluate an ISE named FENL: the ISE acts as a fence for leakage, preventing interaction between, and hence leakage from, instructions before and after it in program order. We demonstrate that the implementation and use of FENL has relatively low overhead, and represents an effective tool for systematically localising and reducing leakage.
Share-slicing: Friend or Foe? 📺
Masking is a well loved and widely deployed countermeasure against side channel attacks, in particular in software. Under certain assumptions (w.r.t. independence and noise level), masking provably prevents attacks up to a certain security order and leads to a predictable increase in the number of required leakages for successful attacks beyond this order. The noise level in typical processors where software masking is used may not be very high, thus low masking orders are not sufficient for real world security. Higher order masking however comes at a great cost, and therefore a number techniques have been published over the years that make such implementations more efficient via parallelisation in the form of bit or share slicing. We take two highly regarded schemes (ISW and Barthe et al.), and some corresponding open source implementations that make use of share slicing, and discuss their true security on an ARM Cortex-M0 and an ARM Cortex-M3 processor (both from the LPC series). We show that micro-architectural features of the M0 and M3 undermine the independence assumptions made in masking proofs and thus their theoretical guarantees do not translate into practice (even worse it seems unpredictable at which order leaks can be expected). Our results demonstrate how difficult it is to link theoretical security proofs to practical real-world security guarantees.
Direct Construction of Optimal Rotational-XOR Diffusion Primitives
As a core component of SPN block cipher and hash function, diffusion layer is mainly introduced by matrices built from maximum distance separable (MDS) codes. Up to now, most MDS constructions require to perform an equivalent or even exhaustive search. In this paper, we study the cyclic structure of rotational-XOR diffusion layer, a commonly used diffusion primitive over (

Program Committees

Eurocrypt 2023