Paper 2023/484

SCA Evaluation and Benchmarking of Finalists in the NIST Lightweight Cryptography Standardization Process

Kamyar Mohajerani, George Mason University
Luke Beckwith, George Mason University, PQSecure Technologies
Abubakr Abdulgadir, PQSecure Technologies
Eduardo Ferrufino, George Mason University
Jens-Peter Kaps, George Mason University
Kris Gaj, George Mason University

Side-channel resistance is one of the primary criteria identified by NIST for use in evaluating candidates in the Lightweight Cryptography (LWC) Standardization process. In Rounds 1 and 2 of this process, when the number of candidates was still substantial (56 and 32, respectively), evaluating this feature was close to impossible. With ten finalists remaining, side-channel resistance and its effect on the performance and cost of practical implementations became of utmost importance. In this paper, we describe a general framework for evaluating the side-channel resistance of LWC candidates using resources, experience, and general practices of the cryptographic engineering community developed over the last two decades. The primary features of our approach are a) self-identification and self-characterization of side-channel security evaluation labs, b) distributed development of protected hardware and software implementations, matching certain high-level requirements and deliverable formats, and c) dynamic and transparent matching of evaluators with implementers in order to achieve the most meaningful and fair evaluation report. After the classes of hardware implementations with similar resistance to side-channel attacks are established, these implementations are comprehensively benchmarked using Xilinx Artix-7 FPGAs. All implementations belonging to the same class are then ranked according to several performance and cost metrics. Four candidates - Ascon, Xoodyak, TinyJAMBU, and ISAP - are selected as offering unique advantages over other finalists in terms of the throughput, area, throughput-to-area ratio, or randomness requirements of their protected hardware implementations.

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lightweight cryptographyside-channel analysisauthenticated ciphershardwaresoftwarebenchmarking
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mmohajer @ gmu edu
lbeckwit @ gmu edu
abubakr abdulgadir @ pqsecurity com
eferruf @ gmu edu
jkaps @ gmu edu
kgaj @ gmu edu
2023-05-05: last of 2 revisions
2023-04-04: received
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      author = {Kamyar Mohajerani and Luke Beckwith and Abubakr Abdulgadir and Eduardo Ferrufino and Jens-Peter Kaps and Kris Gaj},
      title = {SCA Evaluation and Benchmarking of Finalists in the NIST Lightweight Cryptography Standardization Process},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/484},
      year = {2023},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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