Paper 2014/008

A Theoretical Study of Kolmogorov-Smirnov Distinguishers, Side-Channel Analysis vs. Differential Cryptanalysis

Annelie Heuser, Olivier Rioul, and Sylvain Guilley


In this paper, we carry out a detailed mathematical study of two theoretical distinguishers based on the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (KS) distance. This includes a proof of soundness and the derivation of closed- form expressions, which can be split into two factors: one depending only on the noise and the other on the confusion coefficient of Fei, Luo and Ding. This allows one to have a deeper understanding of the relative influences of the signal-to-noise ratio and the confusion coefficient on the distinguisher’s performance. Moreover, one is able to directly compare distinguishers based on their closed-form expressions instead of using evaluation metric that might obscure the actual performance and favor one distinguisher over the other. Furthermore, we formalize the link between the confusion coefficient and differential cryptanalysis, which shows that the stronger an S-box is resistant to differential attacks the weaker it is against side-channel attacks, and vice versa.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. COSADE 2014
Side-channel distinguisherConfusion coefficientKolmogorov- Smirnov analysisClosed-form expressionsS-Box differential uniformityConstrained S-Box search.
Contact author(s)
annelie heuser @ telecom-paristech fr
2014-06-19: last of 2 revisions
2014-01-05: received
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      author = {Annelie Heuser and Olivier Rioul and Sylvain Guilley},
      title = {A Theoretical Study of Kolmogorov-Smirnov Distinguishers, Side-Channel Analysis vs. Differential Cryptanalysis},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2014/008},
      year = {2014},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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