International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


P. G. Popescu


GE vs GM: Efficient side-channel security evaluations on full cryptographic keys
Anca radulescu Pantelimon George Popescu Marios Omar Choudary
Security evaluations for full cryptographic keys is a very important research topic since the past decade. An efficient rank estimation algorithm was proposed at FSE 2015 to approximate the empirical guessing entropy remaining after a side-channel attack on a full AES key, by combining information from attacks on each byte of the key independently. However, these could not easily scale to very large keys over 1024 bits. Hence, at CHES 2017, it was proposed a new approach for scalable security evaluations based on Massey's guessing entropy, which was shown tight and scalable to very large keys, even beyond 8192 bits. Then, at CHES 2020, it was proposed a new method for estimating the empirical guessing entropy for the case of full-key evaluations, showing also important divergences between the empirical guessing entropy and Massey's guessing entropy. However, there has been some confusion in recent publications of side-channel evaluation methods relying on these two variants of the guessing entropy. Furthermore, it remained an open problem to decide which of these methods should be used and in which context, particularly given the wide acceptance of the empirical guessing entropy in the side-channel community and the relatively little use of the other. In this paper, we tackle this open problem through several contributions. First of all, we provide an unitary presentation of both versions of the guessing entropy, allowing an easy comparison of the two metrics. Secondly, we compare the two metrics using a set of common and relevant indicators, as well as three different datasets for side-channel evaluations (simulated, AVR XMEGA 8-bit microcontroller and a 32-bit device). We used these indicators and datasets also to compare the three full-key evaluation methods from FSE~2015, CHES~2017 and CHES~2020, allowing us to provide a clear overview of the usefulness and limitations of each method. Furthermore, our analysis has enabled us to find a new method for verifying the soundness of a leakage model, by comparing both versions of the guessing entropy. This method can be easily extended to full-key evaluations, hence leading to a new useful method for side-channel evaluations.
Back to Massey: Impressively Fast, Scalable, and Tight Security Evaluation Tools
Marios O. Choudary P. G. Popescu
None of the existing rank estimation algorithms can scale to large cryptographic keys, such as 4096-bit (512 bytes) RSA keys. In this paper, we present the first solution to estimate the guessing entropy of arbitrarily large keys, based on mathematical bounds, resulting in the fastest and most scalable security evaluation tool to date. Our bounds can be computed within a fraction of a second, with no memory overhead, and provide a margin of only a few bits for a full 128-bit AES key.