International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Dennis R. E. Gnad


JitSCA: Jitter-based Side-Channel Analysis in Picoscale Resolution
In safety and security conscious environments, isolated communication channels are often deemed necessary. Galvanically isolated communication channels are typically expected not to allow physical side-channel attacks through that channel. However, in this paper, we show that they can inadvertently leak side channel information in the form of minuscule jitter on the communication signal. We observe worst-case signal jitter within 54 ± 45 ps using an FPGA-based receiver employing a time-to-digital converter (TDC), which is a higher time resolution than a typical oscilloscope can measure, while in many other systems such measurements are also possible. A transmitter device runs a cryptographic accelerator, while we connect an FPGA on the receiver side and measure the signal jitter using a TDC. We can indeed show sufficient side-channel leakage in the jitter of the signal by performing a key recovery of an AES accelerator running on the transmitter. Furthermore, we compare this leakage to a power side channel also measured with a TDC and prove that the timing jitter alone contains sufficient side-channel information. While for an on-chip power analysis attack about 27k traces are needed for key recovery, our cross-device jitter-based attack only needs as few as 47k traces, depending on the setup. Galvanic isolation does not change that significantly. That is an increase by only 1.7x, showing that fine-grained jitter timing information can be a very potent attack vector even under galvanic isolation. In summary, we introduce a new side-channel attack vector that can leak information in many presumably secure systems. Communication channels can inadvertently leak information through tiny timing variations, known as signal jitter. This could affect millions of devices and needs to be considered.
Leaky Noise: New Side-Channel Attack Vectors in Mixed-Signal IoT Devices 📺
Dennis R. E. Gnad Jonas Krautter Mehdi B. Tahoori
Microcontrollers and SoC devices have widely been used in Internet of Things applications. This also brings the question whether they lead to new security threats unseen in traditional computing systems. In fact, almost all modern SoC chips, particularly in the IoT domain, contain both analog and digital components, for various sensing and transmission tasks. Traditional remote-accessible online systems do not have this property, which can potentially become a security vulnerability. In this paper we demonstrate that such mixed-signal components, namely ADCs, expose a new security threat that allows attackers with ADC access to deduce the activity of a CPU in the system. To prove the leakage, we perform leakage assessment on three individual microcontrollers from two different vendors with various ADC settings. After showing a correlation of CPU activity with ADC noise, we continue with a leakage assessment of modular exponentiation and AES. It is shown that for all of these devices, leakage occurs for at least one algorithm and configuration of the ADC. Finally, we show a full key recovery attack on AES that works despite of the limited ADC sampling rate. These results imply that even remotely accessible microcontroller systems should be equipped with proper countermeasures against power analysis attacks, or restrict access to ADC data.
FPGAhammer: Remote Voltage Fault Attacks on Shared FPGAs, suitable for DFA on AES
Jonas Krautter Dennis R. E. Gnad Mehdi B. Tahoori
With each new technology generation, the available resources on Field Programmable Gate Arrays increase, making them more attractive for partial access from multiple users. They get increasingly adopted as accelerators in various application domains, embedded in shared Systems on Chip or remote cloud services. Thus, some recent works have already explored Denial-of-Service and side-channel attacks, where an FPGA fabric is shared among multiple users. In this work, we show how fault attacks can be launched within an FPGA, through software-provided bitstreams alone. Excessive voltage drops can be generated from legitimate logic mapped into the FPGA to cause timing faults, reaching from spatially and logically isolated partitions of one to another user of the FPGA fabric. To cause this voltage drop, we first show how specific patterns to activate Ring Oscillators can cause timing failures in simple test designs on various FPGA boards. Subsequently, we analyze and adapt an existing fault model for the Advanced Encryption Standard to match the accuracy of our fault attack. In the same multi-user scenario, we show as a proof-of-concept how a successful Differential Fault Analysis attack on an AES module can be launched. We perform experiments on three FPGA boards of the same model and confirm that the attack adapts to all systems and is successful under process variation, but with different susceptibility to faults. The paper is concluded by validating the attack on another platform, and analyzing the vulnerability based on a timing analysis, proving the applicability to different devices.