Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2017/413

Correlation Power Analysis Attack against STT-MRAM Based Cyptosystems

Abhishek Chakraborty and Ankit Mondal and Ankur Srivastava

Abstract: Emerging technologies such as Spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (STT-MRAM) are considered potential candidates for implementing low-power, high density storage systems. The vulnerability of such nonvolatile memory (NVM) based cryptosystems to standard side-channel attacks must be thoroughly assessed before deploying them in practice. In this paper, we outline a generic Correlation Power Analysis (CPA) attack strategy against STT-MRAM based cryptographic designs using a new power model. In our proposed attack methodology, an adversary exploits the power consumption patterns during the write operation of an STT-MRAM based cryptographic implementation to successfully retrieve the secret key. In order to validate our proposed attack technique, we mounted a CPA attack on MICKEY-128 2.0 stream cipher design consisting of STT-MRAM cells with Magnetic Tunnel Junctions (MTJs) as storage elements. The results of the experiments show that the STT-MRAM based implementation of the cipher circuit is susceptible to standard differential power analysis attack strategy provided a suitable hypothetical power model (such as the one proposed in this paper) is selected. In addition, we also investigated the effectiveness of state-of-the-art side-channel attack countermeasures for MRAMs and found that our proposed scheme is able to break such protected implementations as well.

Category / Keywords: Correlation power analysis attack, Spin-transfer torque magnetic RAM, MICKEY-128 2.0 stream cipher

Original Publication (with major differences): IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST) 2017

Date: received 11 May 2017, last revised 13 May 2017

Contact author: abhi1990 at terpmail umd edu

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Version: 20170514:132310 (All versions of this report)

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