SCA-secure ECC in software - mission impossible?


Conference / Medium


Niels Samwel Björn Haase Łukasz Chmielewski Lejla Batina Peter Schwabe

Research Hub

Research Hub A: Kryptographie der Zukunft
Research Hub B: Eingebettete Sicherheit

Research Challenges

RC 6: Next-Generation Implementation Security


This paper describes an ECC implementation computing the X25519 keyexchange protocol on the Arm Cortex-M4 microcontroller. For providing protections against various side-channel and fault attacks we first review known attacks and countermeasures, then we provide software implementations that come with extensive mitigations, and finally we present a preliminary side-channel evaluation. To our best knowledge, this is the first public software claiming affordable protection against multiple classes of attacks that are motivated by distinct real-world application scenarios. We distinguish between X25519 with ephemeral keys and X25519 with static keys and show that the overhead to our baseline unprotected implementation is about 37% and 243%, respectively. While this might seem to be a high price to pay for security, we also show that even our (most protected) static implementation is at least as efficient as widely-deployed ECC cryptographic libraries, which offer much less protection.


Implementation Attacks
Software Implementation
Asymmetric Cryptography