Paper 2013/770

Efficient Template Attacks

Omar Choudary and Markus G. Kuhn


Template attacks remain a powerful side-channel technique to eavesdrop on tamper-resistant hardware. They model the probability distribution of leaking signals and noise to guide a search for secret data values. In practice, several numerical obstacles can arise when implementing such attacks with multivariate normal distributions. We propose efficient methods to avoid these. We also demonstrate how to achieve significant performance improvements, both in terms of information extracted and computational cost, by pooling covariance estimates across all data values. We provide a detailed and systematic overview of many different options for implementing such attacks. Our experimental evaluation of all these methods based on measuring the supply current of a byte-load instruction executed in an unprotected 8-bit microcontroller leads to practical guidance for choosing an attack algorithm.

Note: Updated version, including conclusions section which was missing in the previous submission.

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Published elsewhere. MINOR revision.CARDIS 2013
side-channel analysistemplate attackfair evaluation
Contact author(s)
omar choudary @ cl cam ac uk
2015-11-10: last of 3 revisions
2013-11-25: received
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      author = {Omar Choudary and Markus G.  Kuhn},
      title = {Efficient Template Attacks},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2013/770},
      year = {2013},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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