International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research

IACR News item: 01 March 2024

Sebastian Faust, Loïc Masure, Elena Micheli, Maximilian Orlt, François-Xavier Standaert
ePrint Report ePrint Report
Symmetric ciphers operating in (small or mid-size) prime fields have been shown to be promising candidates to maintain security against low-noise (or even noise-free) side-channel leakage. In order to design prime ciphers that best trade physical security and implementation efficiency, it is essential to understand how side-channel security evolves with the field size (i.e., scaling trends). Unfortunately, it has also been shown that such a scaling trend depends on the leakage functions and cannot be explained by the standard metrics used to analyze Boolean masking with noise. In this work, we therefore initiate a formal study of prime field masking for two canonical leakage functions: bit leakages and Hamming weight leakages. By leveraging theoretical results from the leakage-resilient secret sharing literature, we explain formally why (1) bit leakages correspond to a worst-case and do not encourage operating in larger fields, and (2) an opposite conclusion holds for Hamming weight leakages, where increasing the prime field modulus p can contribute to a security amplification that is exponential in the number of shares,with log(p) seen as security parameter like the noise variance in Boolean masking. We combine these theoretical results with experimental ones and show that the interest masking in larger prime fields can degrade gracefully when leakage functions slightly deviate from the Hamming weight abstraction, motivating further research towards characterizing (ideally wide) classes of leakage functions offering such guarantees.

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