Side-Channel Leakage Assessment Metrics: A Case Study of GIFT Block Ciphers

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Conference Proceeding

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Determination of an adequate level of security and providing subsequent mechanisms to achieve it, is one of the most pressing problems regarding embedded computing devices. While there are some solutions available for resource-rich computer systems, direct application of these solutions to resource-constrained environments are often unfeasible. The fundamental problem for such resource-constrained systems is the fact that current cryptographic algorithms utilize significant energy consumption and storage overhead. Both the cryptographic algorithm and its physical implementation affect the resilience of a cryptosystem against side-channel attacks. A side-channel attack represents a process that exploits leakages in order to extract sensitive information such as the key. This paper focuses on Correlation Power Analysis (CPA) which is side-channel attack based on the power consumption leakage. In 2016 the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated the call for proposals of new cryptographic algorithms to strengthen the cryptographic defense of networked devices against cyberattacks and to protect the data created by those innumerable device. This work evaluates S-boxes used by NIST candidates PICCOLO, GIFT, and PRESENT, as well as several S-box variants that demonstrated sufficient weaknesses against classical cryptanalysis, for a quantitative comparison in terms of resiliency to CPA attack. Three well-known theoretical metrics are evaluated: transparency order (TO and RTO), non-linearity, and signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, aiming to characterize the resistance of these S-boxes against adversaries exploiting physical leakages. Experimental results from attacks on an 8-bit XMEGA were obtained via the ChipWhisperer platform and of all the S-boxes evaluated, GIFT64 with a PICCOLO S-box was found to be the most susceptible to CPA. Results showed that variations in TO and RTO were not sufficient to ensure practical CPA resistance and that among S-boxes with equal non-linearity there were no significant differences in the TO and SNR variants.