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Attack on the advanced encryption standard cipher chip based on the correspondence between Hamming weight and the number of emitted photons

Wang Hong-Sheng Xu Zi-Yan Zhang Yang Chen Kai-Yan Li Bao-Chen Wu Ling-An

Attack on the advanced encryption standard cipher chip based on the correspondence between Hamming weight and the number of emitted photons

Wang Hong-Sheng, Xu Zi-Yan, Zhang Yang, Chen Kai-Yan, Li Bao-Chen, Wu Ling-An
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  • The security of information transmission is of paramount importance in all sectors of society, whether civilian or defence related. In ancient times the encryption of secret messages was mainly realized by physical or chemical means, but this was later supplemented by mathematical techniques. In parallel, the breaking of enemy codes has also been a subject of intense study. To date, the only known absolutely secure means of encryption is through quantum cryptography, However, this still has to be implemented by equipment that is vulnerable to various physical attacks, so it is important to study these methods of attack, both for legitimate users and for the surveillance of criminal activities. Today, nearly all transactions have to be realized through the computer and much effort has been devoted to cracking the software. However, little attention has been paid to the hardware, and it has only recently been realized that computer chips themselves can leak sensitive information, from which a code may even be deciphered. By studying the photonic emission and the data dependency of a cryptographic chip during operation, the correspondence between the Hamming weight of the operand and the number of photons emitted may be established, based on which a simple and effective method is proposed to crack the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher chip. An experimental platform has been set up for measuring and analyzing the leaked photonic emission using time-correlated single-photon counting. An AT89C52 microcontroller implementing the operation of the AES cipher algorithm is used as a cipher chip. The emitted photons are collected when the first AddRoundKey and SubBytes of the AES encryption arithmetic are executed, and their respective numbers are found to have a linear relationship with the operand Hamming weight. The sources of noise affecting the photon emission trace have been analyzed, so that the measurement error and uncertainty can be reduced effectively. With the help of our Hamming weight simulation model, by selecting one or several groups of plain text and comparing the corresponding relationship between the Hamming weight of the intermediate values and the number of photons emitted by the cipher chip, the key of the AES encryption algorithm has been successfully recovered and cracked. This confirms the effectiveness of this method of attack, which can therefore pose a severe threat to the security of the AES cipher chip. For the next step in the future, our method will be optimized to narrow the search range, and also combined with other photonic emission analysis attacks (such as simple photonic emission analysis and differential photonic emission analysis) to improve the efficiency. A comparison and evaluation of the various methods will be made. At the same time, our current experimental configuration will be improved to obtain a better collection efficiency and signal-to-noise ratio.
      Corresponding author: Wang Hong-Sheng, whswzx@aliyun.com
    • Funds: Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51377170, 11304007), and the Natural Science Foundation of Hebei, China (Grant No. F2012506008).
    [1]

    Krmer J, Kasper M, Seifert J P 2014 19th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference Singapore, Republic of Singapore, January 20-23, 2014 p780

    [2]

    Krmer J, Nedospasov D, Schlosser A, Seifert J P 2013 Constructive Side-Channel Analysis and Secure Design (Berlin: Springer-Verlag) p1

    [3]

    Schlosser A, Nedospasov D, Krmer J, Orlic S, Seifert J P 2013 J. Cryptogr. Eng. 3 3

    [4]

    Wang H S 2015 Ph. D. Dissertation (Shijiazhuang: Ordnance Engineering Collage) (in Chinese) [王红胜 2015 博士学位论文 (石家庄: 军械工程学院)]

    [5]

    Kocher P 1996 Annual International Cryptology Conference California, August 18-22, 1996 p104

    [6]

    Kocher P, Jaffe J, Jun B 1999 Annual International Cryptology Conference California, USA, August 15-19, 1999 p388

    [7]

    Hnath W 2010 Ph. D. Dissertation(Massachusetts: Worcester Polytechnic Institute) (in USA)

    [8]

    Mulder E D 2010 Ph. D. Dissertation(Leuven: Katholieke Universiteit) (in The Kingdom of Belgium)

    [9]

    Biham E, Shamir A 1997 Annual International Cryptology Conference Santa Barbara, California, USA, August 17-21 1997 p513

    [10]

    Wang T, Zhao X J, Guo S Z, Zhang F, Liu H Y, Zheng T M 2012 Chin. J. Comput. 35 325 (in Chinese) [王韬, 赵新杰, 郭世泽, 张帆, 刘会英, 郑天明 2012 计算机学报 35 325]

    [11]

    Kircanski A, Youssef A M 2010 3th International Conference on Cryptology in Africa Stellenbosch, South Africa, May 3-6, 2010 p261

    [12]

    Ferrigno J, Hlav M 2008 IET Infor. Secur. 2 94

    [13]

    Wang Y J, Ding T, Ma H Q, Jiao R Z 2014 Chin. Phys. B 23 060308

    [14]

    Liang Y, Zeng H P 2014 Sci. China: Phys. Mech. Astron. 57 1218

    [15]

    Sun Z B, Ma H Q, Lei M, Yang H D, Wu L A, Zhai G J, Feng J 2007 Acta Phys. Sin. 56 5790 (in Chinese) [孙志斌, 马海强, 雷鸣, 杨捍东, 吴令安, 翟光杰, 冯稷 2007 物理学报 56 5790]

    [16]

    Wang H S, Ji D G, Gao Y L, Zhang Y, Chen K Y, Chen J G, Wu L A, Wang Y Z 2015 Acta Phys. Sin. 64 058901 (in Chinese) [王红胜, 纪道刚, 高艳磊, 张阳, 陈开颜, 陈军广, 吴令安, 王永仲 2015 物理学报 64 058901]

    [17]

    Zhang L B, Kang L, Chen J, Zhao Q Y, Jia T, Xu W W, Cao C H, Jin B B, Wu P H 2011 Acta Phys. Sin. 60 038501 (in Chinese) [张蜡宝, 康琳, 陈健, 赵清源, 郏涛, 许伟伟, 曹春海, 金飚兵, 吴培亨 2011 物理学报 60 038501]

    [18]

    Liu Y, Wu Q L, Han Z F, Dai Y M, Guo G C 2010 Chin. Phys. B 19 080308

    [19]

    Mangard S, Oswald E, Popp T (translated by Feng D G, Zhou Y B, Liu J Y) 2010 Power Analysis Attacks (Beijing: Science Press) pp1-129 (in Chinese) [Mangard S, Oswald E, Popp T 著 (冯登国, 周永彬, 刘继业 译) 2010 能量分析攻击 (北京:科学出版社) 第 1-129 页]

    [20]

    Hu X D, Wei Q F, Hu R 2011 Applied Cryptography (2nd Ed) (Beijing: Electronic Industry Press) pp1-95 (in Chinese) [胡向东, 魏琴芳, 胡蓉编应用密码学 (第 2 版) (北京:电子工业出版社) 第 1-95 页]

    [21]

    Becker W (translated by Qu J L) 2009 Advanced Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting Techniques (Beijing: Science Press) pp1-126 (in Chinese) [Becker W 著 (屈军乐 译) 2009 高级时间相关单光子计数技术 (北京: 科学出版社) 第 1-126 页]

  • [1]

    Krmer J, Kasper M, Seifert J P 2014 19th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference Singapore, Republic of Singapore, January 20-23, 2014 p780

    [2]

    Krmer J, Nedospasov D, Schlosser A, Seifert J P 2013 Constructive Side-Channel Analysis and Secure Design (Berlin: Springer-Verlag) p1

    [3]

    Schlosser A, Nedospasov D, Krmer J, Orlic S, Seifert J P 2013 J. Cryptogr. Eng. 3 3

    [4]

    Wang H S 2015 Ph. D. Dissertation (Shijiazhuang: Ordnance Engineering Collage) (in Chinese) [王红胜 2015 博士学位论文 (石家庄: 军械工程学院)]

    [5]

    Kocher P 1996 Annual International Cryptology Conference California, August 18-22, 1996 p104

    [6]

    Kocher P, Jaffe J, Jun B 1999 Annual International Cryptology Conference California, USA, August 15-19, 1999 p388

    [7]

    Hnath W 2010 Ph. D. Dissertation(Massachusetts: Worcester Polytechnic Institute) (in USA)

    [8]

    Mulder E D 2010 Ph. D. Dissertation(Leuven: Katholieke Universiteit) (in The Kingdom of Belgium)

    [9]

    Biham E, Shamir A 1997 Annual International Cryptology Conference Santa Barbara, California, USA, August 17-21 1997 p513

    [10]

    Wang T, Zhao X J, Guo S Z, Zhang F, Liu H Y, Zheng T M 2012 Chin. J. Comput. 35 325 (in Chinese) [王韬, 赵新杰, 郭世泽, 张帆, 刘会英, 郑天明 2012 计算机学报 35 325]

    [11]

    Kircanski A, Youssef A M 2010 3th International Conference on Cryptology in Africa Stellenbosch, South Africa, May 3-6, 2010 p261

    [12]

    Ferrigno J, Hlav M 2008 IET Infor. Secur. 2 94

    [13]

    Wang Y J, Ding T, Ma H Q, Jiao R Z 2014 Chin. Phys. B 23 060308

    [14]

    Liang Y, Zeng H P 2014 Sci. China: Phys. Mech. Astron. 57 1218

    [15]

    Sun Z B, Ma H Q, Lei M, Yang H D, Wu L A, Zhai G J, Feng J 2007 Acta Phys. Sin. 56 5790 (in Chinese) [孙志斌, 马海强, 雷鸣, 杨捍东, 吴令安, 翟光杰, 冯稷 2007 物理学报 56 5790]

    [16]

    Wang H S, Ji D G, Gao Y L, Zhang Y, Chen K Y, Chen J G, Wu L A, Wang Y Z 2015 Acta Phys. Sin. 64 058901 (in Chinese) [王红胜, 纪道刚, 高艳磊, 张阳, 陈开颜, 陈军广, 吴令安, 王永仲 2015 物理学报 64 058901]

    [17]

    Zhang L B, Kang L, Chen J, Zhao Q Y, Jia T, Xu W W, Cao C H, Jin B B, Wu P H 2011 Acta Phys. Sin. 60 038501 (in Chinese) [张蜡宝, 康琳, 陈健, 赵清源, 郏涛, 许伟伟, 曹春海, 金飚兵, 吴培亨 2011 物理学报 60 038501]

    [18]

    Liu Y, Wu Q L, Han Z F, Dai Y M, Guo G C 2010 Chin. Phys. B 19 080308

    [19]

    Mangard S, Oswald E, Popp T (translated by Feng D G, Zhou Y B, Liu J Y) 2010 Power Analysis Attacks (Beijing: Science Press) pp1-129 (in Chinese) [Mangard S, Oswald E, Popp T 著 (冯登国, 周永彬, 刘继业 译) 2010 能量分析攻击 (北京:科学出版社) 第 1-129 页]

    [20]

    Hu X D, Wei Q F, Hu R 2011 Applied Cryptography (2nd Ed) (Beijing: Electronic Industry Press) pp1-95 (in Chinese) [胡向东, 魏琴芳, 胡蓉编应用密码学 (第 2 版) (北京:电子工业出版社) 第 1-95 页]

    [21]

    Becker W (translated by Qu J L) 2009 Advanced Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting Techniques (Beijing: Science Press) pp1-126 (in Chinese) [Becker W 著 (屈军乐 译) 2009 高级时间相关单光子计数技术 (北京: 科学出版社) 第 1-126 页]

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  • Received Date:  26 January 2016
  • Accepted Date:  04 March 2016
  • Published Online:  05 June 2016

Attack on the advanced encryption standard cipher chip based on the correspondence between Hamming weight and the number of emitted photons

    Corresponding author: Wang Hong-Sheng, whswzx@aliyun.com
  • 1. Department of Information Engineering, Ordnance Engineering Collage, Shijiazhuang 050003, China;
  • 2. Institute of Physics and Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
Fund Project:  Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51377170, 11304007), and the Natural Science Foundation of Hebei, China (Grant No. F2012506008).

Abstract: The security of information transmission is of paramount importance in all sectors of society, whether civilian or defence related. In ancient times the encryption of secret messages was mainly realized by physical or chemical means, but this was later supplemented by mathematical techniques. In parallel, the breaking of enemy codes has also been a subject of intense study. To date, the only known absolutely secure means of encryption is through quantum cryptography, However, this still has to be implemented by equipment that is vulnerable to various physical attacks, so it is important to study these methods of attack, both for legitimate users and for the surveillance of criminal activities. Today, nearly all transactions have to be realized through the computer and much effort has been devoted to cracking the software. However, little attention has been paid to the hardware, and it has only recently been realized that computer chips themselves can leak sensitive information, from which a code may even be deciphered. By studying the photonic emission and the data dependency of a cryptographic chip during operation, the correspondence between the Hamming weight of the operand and the number of photons emitted may be established, based on which a simple and effective method is proposed to crack the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher chip. An experimental platform has been set up for measuring and analyzing the leaked photonic emission using time-correlated single-photon counting. An AT89C52 microcontroller implementing the operation of the AES cipher algorithm is used as a cipher chip. The emitted photons are collected when the first AddRoundKey and SubBytes of the AES encryption arithmetic are executed, and their respective numbers are found to have a linear relationship with the operand Hamming weight. The sources of noise affecting the photon emission trace have been analyzed, so that the measurement error and uncertainty can be reduced effectively. With the help of our Hamming weight simulation model, by selecting one or several groups of plain text and comparing the corresponding relationship between the Hamming weight of the intermediate values and the number of photons emitted by the cipher chip, the key of the AES encryption algorithm has been successfully recovered and cracked. This confirms the effectiveness of this method of attack, which can therefore pose a severe threat to the security of the AES cipher chip. For the next step in the future, our method will be optimized to narrow the search range, and also combined with other photonic emission analysis attacks (such as simple photonic emission analysis and differential photonic emission analysis) to improve the efficiency. A comparison and evaluation of the various methods will be made. At the same time, our current experimental configuration will be improved to obtain a better collection efficiency and signal-to-noise ratio.

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