International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Guilherme Perin


Reinforcement Learning for Hyperparameter Tuning in Deep Learning-based Side-channel Analysis
Deep learning represents a powerful set of techniques for profiling side-channel analysis. The results in the last few years show that neural network architectures like multilayer perceptron and convolutional neural networks give strong attack performance where it is possible to break targets protected with various countermeasures. Considering that deep learning techniques commonly have a plethora of hyperparameters to tune, it is clear that such top attack results can come with a high price in preparing the attack. This is especially problematic as the side-channel community commonly uses random search or grid search techniques to look for the best hyperparameters. In this paper, we propose to use reinforcement learning to tune the convolutional neural network hyperparameters. In our framework, we investigate the Q-Learning paradigm and develop two reward functions that use side-channel metrics. We mount an investigation on three commonly used datasets and two leakage models where the results show that reinforcement learning can find convolutional neural networks exhibiting top performance while having small numbers of trainable parameters. We note that our approach is automated and can be easily adapted to different datasets. Finally, several of our newly developed architectures outperform the current state-of-the-art results.
Strength in Numbers: Improving Generalization with Ensembles in Machine Learning-based Profiled Side-channel Analysis 📺
The adoption of deep neural networks for profiled side-channel attacks provides powerful options for leakage detection and key retrieval of secure products. When training a neural network for side-channel analysis, it is expected that the trained model can implement an approximation function that can detect leaking side-channel samples and, at the same time, be insensible to noisy (or non-leaking) samples. This outlines a generalization situation where the model can identify the main representations learned from the training set in a separate test set.This paper discusses how output class probabilities represent a strong metric when conducting the side-channel analysis. Further, we observe that these output probabilities are sensitive to small changes, like selecting specific test traces or weight initialization for a neural network. Next, we discuss the hyperparameter tuning, where one commonly uses only a single out of dozens of trained models, where each of those models will result in different output probabilities. We show how ensembles of machine learning models based on averaged class probabilities can improve generalization. Our results emphasize that ensembles increase a profiled side-channel attack’s performance and reduce the variance of results stemming from different hyperparameters, regardless of the selected dataset or leakage model.
Keep it Unsupervised: Horizontal Attacks Meet Deep Learning
To mitigate side-channel attacks, real-world implementations of public-key cryptosystems adopt state-of-the-art countermeasures based on randomization of the private or ephemeral keys. Usually, for each private key operation, a “scalar blinding” is performed using 32 or 64 randomly generated bits. Nevertheless, horizontal attacks based on a single trace still pose serious threats to protected ECC or RSA implementations. If the secrets learned through a single-trace attack contain too many wrong (or noisy) bits, the cryptanalysis methods for recovering remaining bits become impractical due to time and computational constraints. This paper proposes a deep learning-based framework to iteratively correct partially correct private keys resulting from a clustering-based horizontal attack. By testing the trained network on scalar multiplication (or exponentiation) traces, we demonstrate that a deep neural network can significantly reduce the number of wrong bits from randomized scalars (or exponents).When a simple horizontal attack can recover around 52% of attacked multiple private key bits, the proposed iterative framework improves the private key accuracy to above 90% on average and to 100% for at least one of the attacked keys. Our attack model remains fully unsupervised and excludes the need to know where the error or noisy bits are located in each separate randomized private key.
Location, Location, Location: Revisiting Modeling and Exploitation for Location-Based Side Channel Leakages
Near-field microprobes have the capability to isolate small regions of a chip surface and enable precise measurements with high spatial resolution. Being able to distinguish the activity of small regions has given rise to the location-based side-channel attacks, which exploit the spatial dependencies of cryptographic algorithms in order to recover the secret key. Given the fairly uncharted nature of such leakages, this work revisits the location side-channel to broaden our modeling and exploitation capabilities. Our contribution is threefold. First, we provide a simple spatial model that partially captures the effect of location-based leakages. We use the newly established model to simulate the leakage of different scenarios/countermeasures and follow an information-theoretic approach to evaluate the security level achieved in every case. Second, we perform the first successful location-based attack on the SRAM of a modern ARM Cortex-M4 chip, using standard techniques such as difference of means and multivariate template attacks. Third, we put forward neural networks as classifiers that exploit the location side-channel and showcase their effectiveness on ARM Cortex-M4, especially in the context of single-shot attacks and small memory regions. Template attacks and neural network classifiers are able to reach high spacial accuracy, distinguishing between 2 SRAM regions of 128 bytes each with 100% success rate and distinguishing even between 256 SRAM byte-regions with 32% success rate. Such improved exploitation capabilities revitalize the interest for location vulnerabilities on various implementations, ranging from RSA/ECC with large memory footprint, to lookup-table-based AES with smaller memory usage.