Electronic cryptographic devices are widely used in embedded systems to secure sensitive information. Such devices store the secret key that is used in conjunction with the cryptographic algorithm, as part of the hardware implementation, which prevents access to the key by unauthorized software.

However, the information processed by circuits can be leaked via physical characteristics of the device, such as power consumption, electromagnetic emanation, timing, etc. These techniques are known as Side-Channel Attacks (SCA). One of the most effective attacks is Differential Power Analysis (DPA), a cryptanalysis technique developed by Kocher et al. DPA attacks analyze the instantaneous power consumption of a cryptographic hardware implementation to reveal the key.

Research into DPA Countermeasures typically significantly increases either the overall design area or the power consumption, or both.  The objective of this research is to investigate low-cost countermeasures against such attacks.

Lab workbench

To date our research has led to the following outcomes:

  • First to show successful Power Analysis attacks possible for SHACAL-2 and Camellia
  • Improved DPA attack that uses Differential Frequency Analysis (DFA) to reduce number of samples required and effect of measurement misalignments
  • Proposed a low-cost Split-Random Delay Insertion DPA countermeasure:
    Evaluated under DPA,DFA, Sliding-window DPA and Realignment attacks
    Performance: x1.8 area, x4 power increase