International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Paper: PROLEAD: A Probing-Based Hardware Leakage Detection Tool

Nicolai Müller , Ruhr University Bochum, Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security, Bochum, Germany
Amir Moradi , University of Cologne, Institute for Computer Science, Cologne, Germany
DOI: 10.46586/tches.v2022.i4.311-348
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Abstract: 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.
  title={PROLEAD: A Probing-Based Hardware Leakage Detection Tool},
  journal={IACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems},
  publisher={Ruhr-Universität Bochum},
  volume={2022, Issue 4},
  author={Nicolai Müller and Amir Moradi},