*21:17*[Pub][ePrint] Who watches the watchmen? : Utilizing Performance Monitors for Compromising keys of RSA on Intel Platforms, by Sarani Bhattacharya, Debdeep Mukhopadhyay

Asymmetric-key cryptographic algorithms when implemented

on systems with branch predictors, are subjected

to side-channel attacks

exploiting the deterministic branch

predictor behavior due to their key-dependent input sequences. We show that branch predictors can also

leak information through the hardware

performance monitors which are

accessible by an adversary at the

user-privilege level. This paper presents

an iterative attack which target the

key-bits of 1024 bit RSA, where in

offline phase, the system\'s underlying

branch predictor is approximated

by a theoretical predictor in literature.

Subsimulations are performed

to classify the message-space into

distinct partitions based on the event

branch misprediction and the target key

bit value. In online phase, we ascertain

the secret key bit using branch mispredictions

obtained from the hardware performance

monitors which reflect the information of branch

miss due to the underlying predictor hardware.

We theoretically prove that the probability

of success of the attack is equivalent to the accurate

modelling of the theoretical predictor to the underlying system predictor. Experimentations reveal that the

success-rate increases with message-count and reaches such a significant value so as to consider side-channel

from the performance counters as a real threat

to RSA-like ciphers due

to the underlying branch predictors and

needs to be considered for developing secured-systems.