Paper 2020/466

Custom Instruction Support for Modular Defense against Side-channel and Fault Attacks

Pantea Kiaei, Darius Mercadier, Pierre-Evariste Dagand, Karine Heydemann, and Patrick Schaumont


The design of software countermeasures against active and passive adversaries is a challenging problem that has been addressed by many authors in recent years. The proposed solutions adopt a theoretical foundation (such as a leakage model) but often do not offer concrete reference implementations to validate the foundation. Contributing to the experimental dimension of this body of work, we propose a customized processor called SKIVA that supports experiments with the design of countermeasures against a broad range of implementation attacks. Based on bitslice programming and recent advances in the literature, SKIVA offers a flexible and modular combination of countermeasures against power-based and timing-based side-channel leakage and fault injection. Multiple configurations of side-channel protection and fault protection enable the programmer to select the desired number of shares and the desired redundancy level for each slice. Recurring and security-sensitive operations are supported in hardware through custom instruction-set extensions. The new instructions support bitslicing, secret-share generation, redundant logic computation, and fault detection. We demonstrate and analyze multiple versions of AES from a side-channel analysis and a fault-injection perspective, in addition to providing a detailed performance evaluation of the protected designs. To our knowledge, this is the first validated end-to-end implementation of a modular bitslice-oriented countermeasure.

Note: The hardware and software design files of this paper can be found on GitHub:

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published elsewhere. International Workshop on Constructive Side-Channel Analysis and Secure Design, COSADE 2020
Side-channel LeakageFault InjectionBitslice Programming
Contact author(s)
pantea95 @ vt edu
darius mercadier @ gmail com
pierre-evariste dagand @ lip6 fr
karine heydemann @ lip6 fr
pschaumont @ wpi edu
2020-04-24: revised
2020-04-24: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Pantea Kiaei and Darius Mercadier and Pierre-Evariste Dagand and Karine Heydemann and Patrick Schaumont},
      title = {Custom Instruction Support for Modular Defense against Side-channel and Fault Attacks},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2020/466},
      year = {2020},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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