International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Michael Neve


On the complexity of side-channel attacks on AES-256 -- methodology and quantitative results on cache attacks
Michael Neve Kris Tiri
Larger key lengths translate into an exponential increase in the complexity of an exhaustive search. Side-channel attacks, however, use a divide-and-conquer approach and hence it is generally assumed that increasing the key length cannot be used as mitigation. Yet, the internal round structure of AES-256 and its key-scheduling seem to hinder a direct extension of the existing attacks on AES-128 and thus challenge the proposition above. Indeed two consecutives round keys are required to infer the secret key and the MixColumns operation, not present in the last round, apparently increases the key search complexity from to 2^8 to 2^32. Additionally, it is unclear what the impact of the different round structures is on the number of required measurements. In this paper, we explore this question and show how to attack AES-256 with a key search complexity of O(2^8). This work confirms with practical experiments that AES-256 only offers a marginal increase in resistance against the attacks –both in the required number of measurements and in the required processing time. As an example, we quantify this increase for the case of cache-based side-channel attacks: AES-256 only provides an increase in complexity of 6 to 7 compared to cache-based attacks on AES-128.
Software mitigations to hedge AES against cache-based software side channel vulnerabilities
Hardware side channel vulnerabilities have been studied for many years in embedded silicon-security arena including SmartCards, SetTop-boxes, etc. However, because various recent security activities have goals of improving the software isolation properties of PC platforms, software side channels have become a subject of interest. Recent publications discussed cache-based software side channel vulnerabilities of AES and RSA. Thus, following the classical approach --- a new side channel vulnerability opens a new mitigation research path --- this paper starts to investigate efficient mitigations to protect AES-software against side channel vulnerabilities. First, we will present several mitigation strategies to harden existing AES software against cache-based software side channel attacks and analyze their theoretical protection. Then, we will present a %thorough performance and security evaluation of our mitigation strategies. For ease of evaluation we measured the performance of our code against the performance of the openSSL AES implementation. In addition, we also analyzed our code under various existing attacks. Depending on the level of the required side channel protection, the measured performance loss of our mitigations strategies versus openSSL (respectively best assembler) varies between factors of 1.35 (2.66) and 2.85 (5.83).
Parallel FPGA Implementation of RSA with Residue Number Systems - Can side-channel threats be avoided? - Extended version
In this paper, we present a new parallel architecture to avoid side-channel analyses such as: timing attack, simple/differential power analysis, fault induction attack and simple/differential electromagnetic analysis. We use a Montgomery Multiplication based on Residue Number Systems. Thanks to RNS, we develop a design able to perform an RSA signature in parallel on a set of identical and independent coprocessors. Of independent interest, we propose a new DPA countermeasure in the framework of RNS. It is only (slightly) memory consuming (1.5 KBytes). Finally, we synthesized our new architecture on FPGA and it presents promising performance results. Even if our aim is to sketch a secure architecture, the RSA signature is performed in less than 160 ms, with competitive hardware resources. To our knowledge, this is the first proposal of an architecture counteracting electromagnetic analysis apart from hardware countermeasures reducing electromagnetic radiations.

Program Committees

CHES 2010