International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Nicolas Costes


Pincering SKINNY by Exploiting Slow Diffusion: Enhancing Differential Power Analysis with Cluster Graph Inference
Nicolas Costes Martijn Stam
Lightweight cryptography is an emerging field where designers are testing the limits of symmetric cryptography. We investigate the resistance against sidechannel attacks of a new class of lighter blockciphers, which use a classic substitution–permutation network with slow diffusion and many rounds.Among these ciphers, we focus on SKINNY, a primitive used up to the final round ofNIST’s recent lightweight standardisation effort. We show that the lack of diffusion in the key scheduler allows an attacker to combine leakage from the first and the last rounds, effectively pincering its target. Furthermore, the slow diffusion used by its partial key-absorption and linear layers enable, on both sides, to target S-Boxes from several rounds deep.As some of these S-boxes leak on the same part of the key, full key recovery exploiting all leakage requires a clever combining strategy. We introduce the use of cluster graph inference (an established tool from probabilistic graphical model theory) to enhance both unprofiled or profiled differential power analysis, enabling us to handlethe increase of S-Boxes with their intertwined leakage.We evaluate the strength of our attack both in the Hamming weight model and against two implementations running on an STM32F303 ARM Cortex-M4 hosted on a ChipWhisperer target board, showing that our attack reduces the number of traces required to attack SKINNY by a factor of around 2.75.
Redundant Code-based Masking Revisited 📺
Nicolas Costes Martijn Stam
Masking schemes are a popular countermeasure against side-channel attacks. To mask bytes, the two classical options are Boolean masking and polynomial masking. The latter lends itself to redundant masking, where leakage emanates from more shares than are strictly necessary to reconstruct, raising the obvious question how well such “redundant” leakage can be exploited by a side-channel adversary. We revisit the recent work by Chabanne et al. (CHES’18) and show that, contrary to their conclusions, said leakage can—in theory—always be exploited. For the Hamming weight scenario in the low-noise regime, we heuristically determine how security degrades in terms of the number of redundant shares for first and second order secure polynomial masking schemes.Furthermore, we leverage a well-established link between linear secret sharing schemes and coding theory to determine when different masking schemes will end up with essentially equivalent leakage profiles. Surprisingly, we conclude that for typical field sizes and security orders, Boolean masking is a special case of polynomial masking. We also identify quasi-Boolean masking schemes as a special class of redundant polynomial masking and point out that the popular “Frobenius-stable” sets of interpolations points typically lead to such quasi-Boolean masking schemes, with subsequent degraded leakage performance.


Nicolas Costes (2)
Martijn Stam (2)