Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2021/261

MIRACLE: MIcRo-ArChitectural Leakage Evaluation

Ben Marshall and Dan Page and James Webb

Abstract: In this paper, we describe an extensible experimental infrastructure and methodology for evaluating the micro-architectural leakage, based on power consumption, which stems from a physical device. Building on existing literature, we use it to systematically study 14 different devices, which span 4 different instruction set architectures and 4 different vendors. The study allows a characterisation of each device with respect to any leakage effects stemming from sources within the micro-architectural implementation; we use it, for example, to identify and document several novel leakage effects (e.g., due to speculative instruction execution), and scenarios where an assumption about leakage is non-portable between different yet compatible devices. Ours is the widest study of its kind we are aware of, and highlights a range of challenges with respect to 1) the design, implementation, and evaluation of masking schemes, 2) construction of accurate fine-grained leakage models, and 3) selection of suitable devices for experimental research. For example, in relation to 1), we cast further doubt on whether a given device can or does uphold the assumptions required by a given masking scheme; in relation to 2), we ultimately conclude that real-world leakage models (either statistical or formal) must include information about the micro-architecture of the device being modelled; in relation to 3), we claim the near mono-culture of devices that dominates existing literature is insufficient to support general claims regarding security. This is particularly important

Category / Keywords: applications / side-channel attack, micro-architectural leakage, leakage modelling

Date: received 3 Mar 2021, last revised 15 Mar 2021

Contact author: ben marshall at bristol ac uk

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Version: 20210315:102208 (All versions of this report)

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