Paper 2020/544

SNI-in-the-head: Protecting MPC-in-the-head Protocols against Side-channel Analysis

Okan Seker, Sebastian Berndt, Luca Wilke, and Thomas Eisenbarth


MPC-in-the-head based protocols have recently gained much popularity and are at the brink of seeing widespread usage. With such widespread use come the spectres of implementation issues and implementation attacks such as side-channel attacks. We show that implementations of protocols implementing the MPC-in-the-head paradigm are vulnerable to side-channel attacks. As a case study, we choose the ZKBoo-protocol of Giacomelli, Madsen, and Orlandi (USENIX 2016) and show that even a single leaked value is sufficient to break the security of the protocol. To show that this attack is not just a theoretical vulnerability, we apply differential power analysis to show the vulnerabilities via a simulation. In order to remedy this situation, we extend and generalize the ZKBooprotocol by making use of the notion of strong non-interference of Barthe et al. (CCS 2016). To apply this notion to ZKBoo, we construct novel versions of strongly non-interfering gadgets that balance the randomness across the different branches evenly. Finally, we show that each circuit can be decomposed into branches using only these balanced strongly noninterfering gadgets. This allows us to construct a version of ZKBoo, called (n + 1)-ZKBoo which is secure against side-channel attacks with limited overhead in both signature-size and running time. Furthermore, (n + 1)-ZKBoo is scalable to the desired security against adversarial probes. We experimentally confirm that the attacks successful against ZKBoo no longer work on (n + 1)-ZKBoo. Moreover, we present an extensive performance analysis and quantify the overhead of our scheme using a practical implementation.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Published elsewhere. CCS 2020
MPC-in-the-headZero KnowledgeStrong Non-Interference
Contact author(s)
okan seker @ uni-luebeck de
s berndt @ uni-luebeck de
l wilke @ uni-luebeck de
thomas eisenbarth @ uni-luebeck de
2020-08-18: revised
2020-05-15: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Okan Seker and Sebastian Berndt and Luca Wilke and Thomas Eisenbarth},
      title = {{SNI}-in-the-head: Protecting {MPC}-in-the-head Protocols against Side-channel Analysis},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2020/544},
      year = {2020},
      doi = {10.1145/3372297.3417889},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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