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Can knowledge regarding the presence of countermeasures against fault attacks simplify power attacks on cryptographic devices?

Additional information

Regazzoni F., Eisenbarth T., Breveglieri L., Ienne P., Koren I.
Article in conference proceedings
Side-channel attacks are nowadays a serious concern when implementing cryptographic algorithms. Powerful ways for gaining information about the secret key as well as various countermeasures against such attacks have been recently developed. Although it is well known that such attacks can exploit information leaked from different sources, most prior works have only addressed the problem of protecting a cryptographic device against a single type of attack. Consequently, there is very little knowledge on how a scheme for protecting a device against one type of side-channel attack may affect its vulnerability to other types of side-channel attacks. In this paper we focus on devices that include protection against fault injection attacks (using different error detection schemes) and explore whether the presence of such fault detection circuits affects the resistance against attacks based on power analysis. Using the AES S-Box as an example, we performed attacks on the unprotected implementation as well as modified implementations with parity check circuits or residue check circuits (mod3 and mod7). In particular, we focus on the question whether the knowledge of the presence of error detection circuitry in the cryptographic device can help an attacker who attempts to mount a power attack on the device. Our results show that the presence of error detection circuitry helps the attacker even if he is unaware of this circuitry, and that the benefit to the attacker increases with the number of check bits used for the purpose of error detection.
Conference proceedings
Proceedings of 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Defect and Fault Tolerance in VLSI Systems (DFTS 08)