International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Nicolai Müller


PROLEAD_SW: Probing-Based Software Leakage Detection for ARM Binaries
Jannik Zeitschner Nicolai Müller Amir Moradi
A decisive contribution to the all-embracing protection of cryptographic software, especially on embedded devices, is the protection against Side-Channel Analysis (SCA) attacks. Masking countermeasures can usually be integrated into the software during the design phase. In theory, this should provide reliable protection against such physical attacks. However, the correct application of masking is a non-trivial task that often causes even experts to make mistakes. In addition to human-caused errors, micro-architectural Central Processing Unit (CPU) effects can lead even a seemingly theoretically correct implementation to fail to satisfy the desired level of security in practice. This originates from different components of< the underlying CPU which complicates the tracing of leakage back to a particular source and hence avoids making general and device-independent statements about its security.PROLEAD has recently been presented at CHES 2022 and has originally been developed as a simulation-based tool to evaluate masked hardware designs. In this work, we adapt PROLEAD for the evaluation of masked software, and enable the transfer of the already known benefits of PROLEAD into the software world. These include (1) evaluation of larger designs compared to the state of the art, e.g. a full Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) masked implementation, and (2) formal verification under our new generic leakage model for CPUs. Concretely, we formalize leakages, observed across different CPU architectures, into a generic abstraction model that includes all these leakages and is therefore independent of a specific CPU design. Our resulting tool PROLEAD_SW allows to provide a formal statement on the security based on the derived generic model. As a concrete result, using PROLEAD_SW we evaluated the security of several publicly available masked software implementations in our new generic leakage model and reveal multiple vulnerabilities.
Automated Generation of Masked Hardware
Masking has been recognized as a sound and secure countermeasure for cryptographic implementations, protecting against physical side-channel attacks. Even though many different masking schemes have been presented over time, design and implementation of protected cryptographic Integrated Circuits (ICs) remains a challenging task. More specifically, correct and efficient implementation usually requires manual interactions accompanied by longstanding experience in hardware design and physical security. To this end, design and implementation of masked hardware often proves to be an error-prone task for engineers and practitioners. As a result, our novel tool for automated generation of masked hardware (AGEMA) allows even inexperienced engineers and hardware designers to create secure and efficient masked cryptograhic circuits originating from an unprotected design. More precisely, exploiting the concepts of Probe-Isolating Non-Interference (PINI) for secure composition of masked circuits, our tool provides various processing techniques to transform an unprotected design into a secure one, eventually accelerating and safeguarding the process of masking cryptographic hardware. Ultimately, we evaluate our tool in several case studies, emphasizing different trade-offs for the transformation techniques with respect to common performance metrics, such as latency, area, andrandomness.
Transitional Leakage in Theory and Practice: Unveiling Security Flaws in Masked Circuits
Accelerated by the increased interconnection of highly accessible devices, the demand for effective and efficient protection of hardware designs against Side-Channel Analysis (SCA) is ever rising, causing its topical relevance to remain immense in both, academia and industry. Among a wide range of proposed countermeasures against SCA, masking is a highly promising candidate due to its sound foundations and well-understood security requirements. In addition, formal adversary models have been introduced, aiming to accurately capture real-world attack scenarios while remaining sufficiently simple to efficiently reason about the SCA resilience of designs. Here, the d-probing model is the most prominent and well-studied adversary model. Its extension, introduced as the robust d-probing model, covers physical defaults occurring in hardware implementations, particularly focusing on combinational recombinations (glitches), memory recombinations (transitions), and routing recombinations (coupling).With increasing complexity of modern cryptographic designs and logic circuits, formal security verification becomes ever more cumbersome. This started to spark innovative research on automated verification frameworks. Unfortunately, these verification frameworks mostly focus on security verification of hardware circuits in the presence of glitches, but remain limited in identification and verification of transitional leakage. To this end, we extend SILVER, a recently proposed tool for formal security verification of masked logic circuits, to also detect and verify information leakage resulting from combinations of glitches and transitions. Based on extensive case studies, we further confirm the accuracy and practical relevance of our methodology when assessing and verifying information leakage in hardware implementations.
PROLEAD: A Probing-Based Hardware Leakage Detection Tool
Nicolai Müller Amir Moradi
Even today, Side-Channel Analysis attacks pose a serious threat to the security of cryptographic implementations fabricated with low-power and nanoscale feature technologies. Fortunately, the masking countermeasures offer reliable protection against such attacks based on simple security assumptions. However, the practical application of masking to a cryptographic algorithm is not trivial, and the designer may overlook possible security flaws, especially when masking a complex circuit. Moreover, abstract models like probing security allow formal verification tools to evaluate masked implementations. However, this is computationally too expensive when dealing with circuits that are not based on composable gadgets. Unfortunately, using composable gadgets comes at some area overhead. As a result, such tools can only evaluate subcircuits, not their compositions, which can become the Achilles’ heel of such masked implementations.In this work, we apply logic simulations to evaluate the security of masked implementations which are not necessarily based on composable gadgets. We developed PROLEAD, an automated tool analyzing the statistical independence of simulated intermediates probed by a robust probing adversary. Compared to the state of the art, our approach (1) does not require any power model as only the state of a gate-level netlist is simulated, (2) can handle masked full cipher implementations, and (3) can detect flaws related to the combined occurrence of glitches and transitions as well as higher-order multivariate leakages. With PROLEAD, we can evaluate masked mplementations that are too complex for existing formal verification tools while being in line with the robust probing model. Through PROLEAD, we have detected security flaws in several publicly-available masked implementations, which have been claimed to be robust probing secure.