International Association for Cryptologic Research

Ph.D. Database

The aim of the IACR Ph.D. database is twofold. On the first hand, we want to offer an overview of Ph.D. already completed in the domain of cryptology. Where possible, this should also include a subject classification, an abstract, and access to the full text. On the second hand, it deals with Ph.D. subjects currently under investigation. This way, we provide a timely map of contemporary research in cryptology. All entries or changes need to be approved by an editor. You can contact them via phds (at)


Ilya Kizhvatov (#828)
Name Ilya Kizhvatov
Personal Homepage
Topic of his/her doctorate. Physical Security of Cryptographic Algorithm Implementations
Category implementation
Keywords side-channel attacks, fault attacks, countermeasures, AES, RSA
Ph.D. Supervisor(s) Alex Biryukov, Jean-Sebastien Coron
Year of completion 2011

This thesis deals with physical attacks on implementations of cryptographic algorithms and countermeasures against these attacks. Physical attacks exploit properties of an implementation such as leakage through physically observable parameters (side-channel analysis) or susceptibility to errors (fault analysis) to recover secret cryptographic keys. In the absence of adequate countermeasures such attacks are often much more efficient than classical cryptanalytic attacks. Particularly vulnerable to physical attacks are embedded devices that implement cryptography in a variety of security-demanding applications.

In the area of side-channel analysis, this thesis addresses attacks that exploit observations of power consumption or electromagnetic leakage of the device and target symmetric cryptographic algorithms (at the notable example of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)). First, this work proposes a new combination of two well-known techniques of such attacks: differential side-channel analysis and side-channel collision attacks. The combination is more efficient than each of the attacks individually. As a further improvement, new dimension reduction techniques for side-channel acquisitions are introduced for side-channel collision detection and compared using an information-theoretic metric. Second, this work studies attacks exploiting leakage induced by microprocessor cache mechanism. We present an algorithm for cache-collision attacks that can recover the secret key in the presence of uncertainties in cache event detection from side-channel acquisitions, which may happen in a noisy measurement environment. Third, practical side-channel attacks are discovered against the AES engine of the AVR XMEGA, a recent versatile microcontroller for a variety of embedded applications.

In the area of fault analysis, this thesis extends existing attacks against the RSA digital signature algorithm implemented with the Chinese remainder theorem to a setting where parts of the signed message are unknown to the attacker. The new attacks are applicable in particular to the randomized ISO/IEC 9796-2 encoding variant used in the EMV standard, and to the PKCS #1 v1.5 standard in the setting when the message is totally unknown. Both standards are widely used in modern smart card applications.

In the area of countermeasures, this work proposes a new algorithm for random delay generation in embedded software. Random delays can be inserted into the execution flow of a cryptographic algorithm to break synchronization in physical attacks and therefore increase their complexity. The new algorithm is based on the idea of generating individual random delays non-independently. It is more efficient than the previously suggested algorithms since it introduces more uncertainty for the attacker with less performance overhead.

The results presented in this thesis are practically validated in experiments with general-purpose 8-bit AVR and 32-bit ARM microcontrollers that are used in many embedded devices.

E-Mail Address ilya.kizhvatov (at)
Last Change 2012-07-08 23:47:56
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