On the Impact of Aging on Power Analysis Attacks Targeting Power-Equalized Cryptographic Circuits

Md Toufiq Hasan Anik, Bijan Fadaeinia, Amir Moradi, Naghmeh Karimi

26th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference, ASP-DAC 2021, January 18-21, 2021


Side-channel analysis attacks exploit the physical characteristics of cryptographic chip implementations to extract their embedded secret keys. In particular, Power Analysis (PA) attacks make use of the dependency of the power consumption on the data being processed by the cryptographic devices. To tackle the vulnerability of cryptographic circuits against PA attack, various countermeasures have been proposed in literature and already adapted by industries, among which a branch of hiding schemes that opt to equalize the power consumption of the chip regardless of the processed data, have received the lion's share of attention. Although these countermeasures are supposed to protect the cryptographic chips against PA attacks, they fail to consider the impact of aging occurs during the device lifetime. Due to aging, the specifications of transistors, and in particular their threshold-voltage, deviate from their fabrication time specification, leading to a change of circuit's delay and power consumption over time.

In this paper, we show that the aging-induced impacts result in imbalances in the equalized power consumption achieved by hiding countermeasures. This makes the cryptographic chips vulnerable to PA attacks when aged. The experimental results extracted through the aging simulation of the PRESENT cipher protected via Sense Amplifier Based Logic (SABL), one of the most popular hiding countermeasures, shows that the SABL protection may not remain resistant against PA attacks during the circuit lifetime.

tags: Aging, DPA, SABL