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Quantitative Analysis of Timing Channel Security in Cryptographic Hardware Design


Cryptographic cores are known to leak information about their private key due to runtime variations, and there are many well-known attacks that can exploit this timing channel. In this paper, we study how information theoretic measures can quantify the amount of key leakage that can be exacted from runtime measurements. We develop and analyze 22 Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) hardware designs - each with unique performance optimizations, timing channel mitigation techniques, or discretization/randomization countermeasures. We demonstrate the effectiveness of information theoretic measures for quantifying timing leakage through correlation analysis of information theoretic measurements and attack results. Experimental results show that mutual information is a promising technique for quantifying timing leakage for RSA, advanced encryption standard, and elliptic curve cryptography ciphers, i.e., the mutual information correlates to being able to successfully guess the value of the private key. This is an important step toward a hardware security metric which allows designers to reason about security alongside traditional hardware design metrics like area, performance, and power.

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