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Remote Cache Timing Attack on Advanced Encryption Standard and countermeasures

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4 Author(s)
Jayasinghe, D. ; Dept. of Comput. Eng., Univ. of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka ; Fernando, J. ; Herath, R. ; Ragel, R.

AES, Advanced Encryption Standard, is a symmetric key encryption standard being widely used to secure data in places where data confidentiality is a critical issue. AES was adopted from the Rijndael algorithm which was developed by Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen. In 2001 NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology, declared Rijndael algorithm as the next generation cryptographic algorithm, and thus was titled AES - Advanced Encryption Standard. NIST spent several years analyzing the Rijndael algorithm for vulnerabilities against all known breeds of attacks and finally declared it to be a secure algorithm. In 2005 Daniel J. Bernstein claimed that the software implementation of AES is vulnerable to side channel attacks. Side Channel Attacks are a form of cryptanalysis that focuses not on breaking the underlying cipher directly but on exploiting weaknesses found in certain implementations of a cipher. One could derive attacks based on side-channel information gained through timing information, radiation of various sorts, power consumption statistics, cache contents, etc. AES uses a series of table look ups to increase its performance. Since these tables do not fully fit into the cache, cache hits and misses are frequent during encryption, causing various look up times, and thus various encryption times that change according to the input text and the encryption key. The Cache Timing Attack proposed by Bernstein correlates the timing details for encryption under a known key with an unknown key to deduce the unknown key. Bernstein demonstrated the attack against the OpenSSL 0.9.7a AES implementation on an 850MHz Pentium III desktop computer running FreeBSD 4.8. Over the years many researchers have proposed a number of countermeasures against Bernstein's Cache Timing Attack but there is no evidence to date of any investigation carried out to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. Our study focused on verifying Bernstein's Cache Timing Attack and investiga- - ting some of the countermeasures that have been proposed by implementing them.

Published in:

Information and Automation for Sustainability (ICIAFs), 2010 5th International Conference on

Date of Conference:

17-19 Dec. 2010