Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2018/620

STELLAR: A Generic EM Side-Channel Attack Protection through Ground-Up Root-cause Analysis

Debayan Das and Mayukh Nath and Baibhab Chatterjee and Santosh Ghosh and Shreyas Sen

Abstract: The threat of side-channels is becoming increasingly prominent for resource-constrained internet-connected devices. While numerous power side-channel countermeasures have been proposed, a promising approach to protect the non-invasive electromagnetic side-channel attacks has been relatively scarce. Today's availability of high-resolution electromagnetic (EM) probes mandates the need for a low-overhead solution to protect EM side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks. This work, for the first time, performs a white-box analysis to root-cause the origin of the EM leakage from an integrated circuit. System-level EM simulations with Intel 32 nm CMOS technology interconnect stack, as an example, reveals that the EM leakage from metals above layer 8 can be detected by an external non-invasive attacker with the commercially available state-of-the-art EM probes. Equipped with this `white-box' understanding, this work proposes \textit{STELLAR}: Signature aTtenuation Embedded CRYPTO with Low-Level metAl Routing, which is a two-stage solution to eliminate the critical signal radiation from the higher-level metal layers. Firstly, we propose routing of the entire cryptographic cores power traces using the local lower-level metal layers, whose leakage cannot be picked up by an external attacker. Then, the entire crypto IP is embedded within a Signature Attenuation Hardware (SAH) which in turn suppresses the critical encryption signature before it routes the current signature to the highly radiating top-level metal layers. System-level implementation of the STELLAR hardware with local lower-level metal routing in TSMC 65 nm CMOS technology, with an AES-128 encryption engine (as an example cryptographic block) operating at 40 MHz, shows that the system remains secure against EM SCA attack even after $1 M$ encryptions, with $67\%$ energy efficiency and $1.23\times$ area overhead compared to the unprotected AES.

Category / Keywords: applications / EM Side-channel attack, Generic countermeasure, Ground-up EM Leakage Modeling, Cryptographic hardware, STELLAR, Signature Attenuation Hardware

Original Publication (in the same form): IEEE HOST 2019

Date: received 20 Jun 2018, last revised 12 Mar 2019

Contact author: das60 at purdue edu

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20190313:052447 (All versions of this report)

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