Paper 2013/298

Does My Device Leak Information? An a priori Statistical Power Analysis of Leakage Detection Tests

Luke Mather, Elisabeth Oswald, Joe Bandenburg, and Marcin Wojcik


The development of a leakage detection testing methodology for the side-channel resistance of cryptographic devices is an issue that has received recent focus from standardisation bodies such as NIST. Statistical techniques such as hypothesis and significance testing appear to be ideally suited for this purpose. In this work we evaluate the candidacy of three such detection tests: a \emph{t}-test proposed by Cryptography Research Inc., and two mutual information-based tests, one in which data is treated as continuous and one as discrete. Our evaluation investigates three particular areas: statistical power, the effectiveness of multiplicity corrections, and computational complexity. To facilitate a fair comparison we conduct a novel \emph{a priori} statistical power analysis of the three tests in the context of side-channel analysis, finding surprisingly that the continuous mutual information and \emph{t}-tests exhibit similar levels of power. We also show how the inherently parallel nature of the continuous mutual information test can be leveraged to reduce a large computational cost to insignificant levels. To complement the \emph{a priori} statistical power analysis we include two real-world case studies of the tests applied to software and hardware implementations of the AES

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Publication info
Published by the IACR in Asiacrypt 2013
Side-channel analysisleakage detectionstatisticsmutual information
Contact author(s)
luke mather @ bristol ac uk
elisabeth oswald @ bristol ac uk
joe @ bandenburg com
2013-12-18: last of 2 revisions
2013-05-25: received
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      author = {Luke Mather and Elisabeth Oswald and Joe Bandenburg and Marcin Wojcik},
      title = {Does My Device Leak Information? An a priori Statistical Power Analysis of Leakage Detection Tests},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2013/298},
      year = {2013},
      doi = {10.1007/978-3-642-42033-7_25},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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