Paper 2021/1592

The Need for Speed: A Fast Guessing Entropy Calculation for Deep Learning-based SCA

Guilherme Perin
Lichao Wu
Stjepan Picek

The adoption of deep neural networks for profiling side-channel attacks (SCA) opened new perspectives for leakage detection. Recent publications showed that cryptographic implementations featuring different countermeasures could be broken without feature selection or trace preprocessing. This success comes with a high price: extensive hyperparameter search to find optimal deep learning models. As deep learning models usually suffer from overfitting due to their high fitting capacity, it is crucial to avoid over-training regimes, which require a correct number of epochs. For that, \textit{early stopping} is employed as an efficient regularization method that requires a consistent validation metric. Although guessing entropy is a highly informative metric for profiling SCA, it is time-consuming, especially if computed for all epochs during training and the number of validation traces is significantly large. This paper shows that guessing entropy can be efficiently computed during training by reducing the number of validation traces without affecting the efficiency of early stopping decisions. Our solution significantly speeds up the process, impacting hyperparameter search and overall profiling attack performances. Our fast guessing entropy calculation is up to 16$\times$ faster, resulting in more hyperparameter tuning experiments and allowing security evaluators to find more efficient deep learning model.

Available format(s)
Attacks and cryptanalysis
Publication info
Side-channel Analysis Deep learning Guessing entropy Validation phase Fast Guessing Entropy
Contact author(s)
guilhermeperin7 @ gmail com
L Wu-4 @ tudelft nl
picek stjepan @ gmail com
2022-07-28: last of 2 revisions
2021-12-06: received
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      author = {Guilherme Perin and Lichao Wu and Stjepan Picek},
      title = {The Need for Speed: A Fast Guessing Entropy Calculation for Deep Learning-based SCA},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/1592},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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