A generic method for the analysis of a class of cache attacks: a case study for AES
Savaş, Erkay and Yılmaz, Cemal (2015) A generic method for the analysis of a class of cache attacks: a case study for AES. Computer Journal, 58 (10). pp. 2716-2737. ISSN 0010-4620 (Print) 1460-2067 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/comjnl/bxv027
In this paper, we present a methodology to evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness and complexity of a class of cache-based side-channel attacks. The methodology provides estimates on the lower bound of the required number of observations on the side channel and the number of trials for a successful attack. As a case study, a weak implementation of the Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm is selected to apply the proposed methodology to three different categories of cache-based attacks; namely, access-driven, trace-driven and time-driven attacks. The approach, however, is generic in the sense that it can be utilized in other algorithms that are subject to the micro-architectural side-channel attacks. The adopted approach bases its analysis method partially on the conditional entropy of secret keys given the observations of the intermediate variables in software implementations of cryptographic algorithms via the side channel and explores the extent to which the observations can be exploited in a successful attack. Provided that the intermediate variables are relatively simple functions of the key material and the known inputs or outputs of cryptographic algorithms, a successful attack is theoretically feasible. Our methodology emphasizes the need for an analysis of this leakage through such intermediate variables and demonstrates a systematic way to measure it. The method allows us to explore every attack possibility, estimate the feasibility of an attack, and compare the efficiency and the costs of different attack strategies to determine an optimal level of effective countermeasures.
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