Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2015/100

Influence of Electrical Circuits of ECC Designs on Shape of Electromagnetic Traces measured on FPGA

Christian Wittke and Zoya Dyka and Peter Langendoerfer

Abstract: Side channel attacks take advantage from the fact that the behavior of crypto implementations can be observed and provides hints that simplify revealing keys. The energy consumption of the chip that performs a cryptographic operation depends on its inputs, on the used cryptographic key and on the circuit that realizes the cryptographic algorithm. An attacker can experiment with different inputs and key candidates: he studies the influence of these parameters on the shape of measured traces with the goal to extract the key. The main assumption is here that the circuit of the attacked devices is constant. In this paper we investigated the influence of variable circuits on the shape of electromagnetic traces. We changed only a part of the cryptographic designs i.e. the partial multiplier of our ECC designs. This part calculates always the same function in a single clock cycle. The rest of the design was kept unchanged. So, we obtained designs with significantly different circuits: in our experiments the number of used FPGAs LUTs differs up to 15%. These differences in the circuits caused a big difference in the shape of electromagnetic traces even when the same data and the same key are processed. Our experiments show that the influence of different circuits on the shape of traces is comparable with the influence of different inputs. We assume that this fact can be used as a protection means against side channel attacks, especially if the cryptographic circuit can be changed before the cryptographic operation is executed or dynamically, i.e. while the cryptographic operation is processed.

Category / Keywords: public-key cryptography / countermeasures against side-channel attacks, FPGA, electromagnetic traces

Date: received 10 Feb 2015, last revised 19 Mar 2015

Contact author: wittke at ihp-microelectronics com

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Version: 20150319:093206 (All versions of this report)

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