Paper 2021/261

MIRACLE: MIcRo-ArChitectural Leakage Evaluation

Ben Marshall, Dan Page, and James Webb


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

Available format(s)
Publication info
A minor revision of an IACR publication in Tches 2021
side-channel attackmicro-architectural leakageleakage modelling
Contact author(s)
ben marshall @ bristol ac uk
2021-09-22: last of 3 revisions
2021-03-03: received
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      author = {Ben Marshall and Dan Page and James Webb},
      title = {MIRACLE: MIcRo-ArChitectural Leakage Evaluation},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/261},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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