Paper 2016/183

There is Wisdom in Harnessing the Strengths of your Enemy: Customized Encoding to Thwart Side-Channel Attacks -- Extended Version --

Houssem Maghrebi, Victor Servant, and Julien Bringer


Side-channel attacks are an important concern for the security of cryptographic algorithms. To counteract it, a recent line of research has investigated the use of software encoding functions such as dual-rail rather than the well known masking countermeasure. The core idea consists in encoding the sensitive data with a fixed Hamming weight value and perform all operations following this fashion. This new set of countermeasures applies to all devices that leak a function of the Hamming weight of the internal variables. However when the leakage model deviates from this idealized model, the claimed security guarantee vanishes. In this work, we introduce a framework that aims at building customized encoding functions according to the precise leakage model based on stochastic profiling. We specifically investigate how to take advantage of adversary's knowledge of the physical leakage to select the corresponding optimal encoding. Our solution has been evaluated within several security metrics, proving its efficiency against side-channel attacks in realistic scenarios. A concrete experimentation of our proposal to protect the PRESENT Sbox confirms its practicability. In a realistic scenario, our new custom encoding achieves a hundredfold reduction in leakage compared to the dual-rail, although using the same code length.

Note: This paper is an extended version of a previous publication that will appear in the proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Fast Software Encryption (FSE 2016). This version includes the Appendices that were elided for space.

Available format(s)
Publication info
A major revision of an IACR publication in FSE 2016
constant weight countermeasuresstochastic characterizationcustomized encoding functionsecurity metricsinformation theoretic analysisside-channel analysis
Contact author(s)
houssem maghrebi @ morpho com
2016-02-23: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Houssem Maghrebi and Victor Servant and Julien Bringer},
      title = {There is Wisdom in Harnessing the Strengths of your Enemy: Customized Encoding to Thwart Side-Channel Attacks -- Extended Version --},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2016/183},
      year = {2016},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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