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Title: A Network-based Asynchronous Architecture for Cryptographic Devices
Authors: Spadavecchia, Ljiljana
Supervisor(s): Arvind, D K
Cole, Murray
Issue Date: Jul-2006
Publisher: University of Edinburgh. College of Science and Engineering. School of Informatics.
Abstract: The traditional model of cryptography examines the security of the cipher as a mathematical function. However, ciphers that are secure when specified as mathematical functions are not necessarily secure in real-world implementations. The physical implementations of ciphers can be extremely difficult to control and often leak socalled side-channel information. Side-channel cryptanalysis attacks have shown to be especially effective as a practical means for attacking implementations of cryptographic algorithms on simple hardware platforms, such as smart-cards. Adversaries can obtain sensitive information from side-channels, such as the timing of operations, power consumption and electromagnetic emissions. Some of the attack techniques require surprisingly little side-channel information to break some of the best known ciphers. In constrained devices, such as smart-cards, straightforward implementations of cryptographic algorithms can be broken with minimal work. Preventing these attacks has become an active and a challenging area of research. Power analysis is a successful cryptanalytic technique that extracts secret information from cryptographic devices by analysing the power consumed during their operation. A particularly dangerous class of power analysis, differential power analysis (DPA), relies on the correlation of power consumption measurements. It has been proposed that adding non-determinism to the execution of the cryptographic device would reduce the danger of these attacks. It has also been demonstrated that asynchronous logic has advantages for security-sensitive applications. This thesis investigates the security and performance advantages of using a network-based asynchronous architecture, in which the functional units of the datapath form a network. Non-deterministic execution is achieved by exploiting concurrent execution of instructions both with and without data-dependencies; and by forwarding register values between instructions with data-dependencies using randomised routing over the network. The executions of cryptographic algorithms on different architectural configurations are simulated, and the obtained power traces are subjected to DPA attacks. The results show that the proposed architecture introduces a level of non-determinism in the execution that significantly raises the threshold for DPA attacks to succeed. In addition, the performance analysis shows that the improved security does not degrade performance.
Description: Institute for Computing Systems Architecture
Appears in Collections:Informatics thesis and dissertation collection

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