<< 2007-8 >>
Department of
Computer Science

Investigation of Power Analysis Attacks

Dr Elisabeth Oswald, Principal Investigator
Department of Computer Science
University of Bristol
Merchant Venturers Building
Woodland Road
United Kingdom


This research project aimed to scrutinize the application and to expand the theory of power analysis attacks. Power analysis attacks allow the extraction of secret information from smart cards and other cryptographic devices. Smart cards are used in many applications including banking, mobile communications, pay TV, and electronic signatures. In all these applications, the security of the smart cards is of crucial importance. The research outcomes of this project relate to the secure implementation of cryptographic algorithms on devices such as smart cards, mobile phones, etc. We pursued three strands of open questions and achieved several interesting and practically relevant results. Firstly, we looked at the applicability of so called template attacks which are considered to be the strongest implementation attacks in an information theoretic sense. We found new ways of utilising such attacks to to for instance mount attacks on devices using less information (e.g. attacks that do not require knowledge of inputs). Secondly we looked at evaluation strategies to assess the security of devices. We found that under certain conditions, the most commonly used side channel attacks are actually equivalent and differences observed in paper relating to practical results are statistical artifacts sometimes related to insufficient experimental setups. Thirdly we investigated the secure implementation of so-called public-key cryptography and put forward some new algorithms.

Researche staff who contributed to this project: Mike Tunstall

Selected publications:

Randomised representations, N. P. Smart, D. Page, and E. Oswald, IET Information Security, June 2008, Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 19-27
All for one-one for all: Unifying univariate DPA attacks, Stefan Mangard, Elisabeth Oswald and Francois-Xavier Standaert. IET Information Security, volume 5(2): 100-110, July 2011
Side Channel Analysis of Cryptographic Software via Early-Terminating Multiplications. Johann Groszschaedl, Elisabeth Oswald, Dan Page and Michael Tunstall. In: International Conference on Information Security and Cryptology (ICISC), pages 176-192. Springer-Verlag LNCS 5984, November 2009.
The World Is Not Enough: Another Look on Second-Order DPA. Francois-Xavier Standaert, Nicolas Veyrat-Charvillon, Elisabeth Oswald, Benedikt Gierlichs, Marcel Medwed, Markus Kasper and Stefan Mangard. In: Advances in Cryptology - ASIACRYPT 2010, pages 112-129. Springer LNCS 6477, December 2010.
Coordinate Blinding over Large Prime Fields. Michael Tunstall, Marc Joye, Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems - CHES 2010, pp. 443-455. September 2010.
Unknown Plaintext Template Attacks. Neil Hanley, Michael Tunstall, William P. Marnane, Workshop on Information Security Applications, WISA 2009, pp. 148-162. December 2009.
OpenSCA toolbox, E. Oswald, OpenSCA website

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