Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Side channel attack resistance: Migrating towards high level methods
by Borowczak, Mike, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 2013, 183; 3601397
Abstract (Summary)

Our world is moving towards ubiquitous networked computing with unstoppable momentum. With technology available at our every finger tip, we expect to connect quickly, cheaply, and securely on the sleekest devices. While the past four decades of design automation research has focused on making integrated circuits smaller, cheaper and quicker the past decade has drawn more attention towards security. Though security within the scope of computing is a large domain, the focus of this work is on the elimination of computationally based power byproducts from high-level device models down to physical designs and implementations The scope of this dissertation is within the analysis, attack and protection of power based side channels. Research in the field concentrates on determining, masking and/or eliminating the sources of data dependent information leakage within designs. While a significant amount of research is allocated to reducing this leakage at low levels of abstraction, significantly less research effort has gone into higher levels of abstraction. This dissertation focuses on both ends of the design spectrum while motivating the future need for hierarchical side channel resistance metrics for hardware designs. Current low level solutions focus on creating perfectly balanced standard cells through various straight-forward logic styles. Each of these existing logic styles, while enhancing side channel resistance by reducing the channels' variance, come at significant design expense in terms of area footprint, power consumption, delay and even logic style structure. The first portion of this proposal introduces a universal cell based on a dual multiplexer, implemented using a pass-transistor logic which approaches and exceeds some standard cell cost benchmarks. The proposed cell and circuit level methods shows significant improvements in security metrics over existing cells and approaches standard CMOS cell and circuit performance by reducing area, power consumption and delay. While most low level works stop at the cell level, this work also investigates the impact of environmental factors on security. On the other end of the design spectrum, existing secure architecture and algorithm research attempts to mask side channels through random noise, variable timing, instruction reordering and other similar methods. These methods attempt to obfuscate the primary source of information with side channels. Unfortunately, in most cases, the techniques are still susceptible to attack - of those with promise, most are algorithm specific. This dissertation approaches high-level security by eliminating the relationship between high level side channel models and the side channels themselves. This work discusses two different solutions targeting architecture level protection. The first, deals with the protection of Finite State Machines, while the seconds deals with protection of a class of cryptographic algorithms using Feedback Shift Registers. This dissertation includes methods for reducing the power overhead of any FSM circuit (secured or not). The solutions proposed herein render potential side channel models moot by eliminating or reducing the model's data dependent variability. Designers unwilling to compromise on a doubling of area can include some sub-optimal security to their devices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vemuri, Ranganadha
Commitee: Jone, Wen Ben, Purdy, Carla, Purdy, George, Sundaresan, Vijay
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Computer Science & Engineering
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Computer Engineering, Computer science
Keywords: Attack resistance, Fsm, High level, Low power, Security, Side channels
Publication Number: 3601397
ISBN: 9781303525438
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