Paper 2022/1499

WrapQ: Side-Channel Secure Key Management for Post-Quantum Cryptography

Markku-Juhani O. Saarinen, PQShield Ltd, Tampere University

Transition to PQC brings complex challenges to builders of secure cryptographic hardware. PQC keys usually need to be stored off-module and protected via symmetric encryption and message authentication codes. Only a short, symmetric Key-Encrypting Key (KEK) can be managed on-chip with trusted non-volatile key storage. For secure use, PQC key material is handled in masked format; as randomized shares. Due to the masked encoding of the key material, algorithm-specific techniques are needed to protect the side-channel security of the PQC key import and export processes. In this work, we study key handling techniques used in real-life secure Kyber and Dilithium hardware. We describe WrapQ, a masking-friendly key-wrapping mechanism designed for lattice cryptography. On a high level, WrapQ protects the integrity and confidentiality of key material and allows keys to be stored outside the main security boundary of the module. Significantly, its wrapping and unwrapping processes minimize side-channel leakage from the KEK integrity/authentication keys as well as the masked Kyber or Dilithium key material payload. We demonstrate that masked Kyber or Dilithium private keys can be managed in a leakage-free fashion from a compact WrapQ format without updating its encoding in non-volatile (or read-only) memory. WrapQ has been implemented in a side-channel secure hardware module. Kyber and Dilithium wrapping and unwrapping functions were validated with 100K traces of ISO 17825 / TVLA-type leakage assessment.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. PQCrypto 2023
Side-Channel SecurityMasking CountermeasuresKey WrappingPost-Quantum CryptographyKyberDilithium
Contact author(s)
mjos @ pqshield com
2023-06-15: last of 9 revisions
2022-10-31: received
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      author = {Markku-Juhani O. Saarinen},
      title = {WrapQ: Side-Channel Secure Key Management for Post-Quantum Cryptography},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2022/1499},
      year = {2022},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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