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Side-Channel Attacks on Cryptographic Software
November/December 2009 (vol. 7 no. 6)
pp. 65-68
Nate Lawson, Root Labs
When it comes to cryptographic software, side channels are an often-overlooked threat. A side channel is any observable side effect of computation that an attacker could measure and possibly influence. In the software world, side-channel attacks have sometimes been dismissed as impractical. However, new system architecture features, such as larger cache sizes and multicore processors, have increased the prevalence of side channels and quality of measurement available to an attacker. This article explains three recent side-channel attacks on cryptographic software, exploiting a comparison function, CPU cache timing, and branch prediction logic to recover a secret key. Software developers must be aware of the potential for side-channel attacks and plan appropriately.

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Index Terms:
cryptography, side channel attack, timing attack, AES, Advanced Encryption Standard, RSA, HMAC, Hash Message Authentication Code, CPU cache, branch prediction logic, multicore, crypto corner
Citation:
Nate Lawson, "Side-Channel Attacks on Cryptographic Software," IEEE Security & Privacy, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 65-68, Nov.-Dec. 2009, doi:10.1109/MSP.2009.165
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