At Embedded World I gave a talk on embedded security. There was also an associated paper, and I’m now making those available. I’ve also duplicated the paper contents in this blog post for your ease of access.
Download Slides (PPTX):
ABSTRACT: As interconnected devices proliferate, security of those devices becomes more important. Two critical attacks can bypass many standard security mechanisms. These attacks are broadly known as side-channel attacks & fault injection attacks. This paper will introduce side-channel power analysis and fault injection attacks and their relevance to embedded systems. Examples of attacks are given, along with a short discussion of countermeasures and effectiveness. The use of open-source tools is highlighted, allowing the reader the chance to better understand these attacks with hands-on examples.
Side-channel attacks are the broad class given to attacks which rely on “additional information” that is accidentally leaked. A variety of such side-channels exist, such as the time an algorithm takes to execute can betray information about the code paths taken in the algorithm. Of great interest to embedded developers is side channel power analysis, first introduced by Kocher et al. in 1999 . This attack takes advantage of a small piece of information – the data being processed by a system affects the power consumption of that system. This allows us to break advanced cryptography systems such as recovering an AES-256 key in a matter of minutes. These attacks do not rely on substantial resources – they can be performed with commodity hardware and for less than $50. A second class of attack will be known as fault injection attacks. They allow us to modify the program flow of code, which can cause a variety of security flaws to be exploited. This paper will briefly introduce those two methods of attacks and discuss how engineers can understand them to develop effective countermeasures.
Power Analysis for Algorithm Flow
The most basic form of power analysis attack is simple power analysis. In this method we will extract information about the algorithm flow. This could be used to directly extract key bits where changes in program flows reveal key information (such as with RSA), but can also be used to extract information such as timing that simplifies further attacks. Observe a simple password check which checks a byte of the password at a time. The execution time through this algorithm would reveal which password byte was incorrect, allowing an attacker the ability to quickly brute-force the algorithm. A password of ADBC would entail only the guess sequence “A/A..B..C..D/A..B../A..B…C” to find the correct password, as once the correct letter is found for one digit the guess algorithm can move onto the next digit.
Such an attack could be performed from the communications protocol. But many systems will add a random delay before returning the results. With power analysis we could see the unique signatures in the power trace, as in Figure 1. Fig. 1. A simple password check shows how many iterations through the loop we took.
These power measurement examples are taken with the ChipWhisperer project. Here the power measurements are done by inserting a shunt resistor into the device power pin, and using the fact that a change in current will cause a change in voltage across the resistor. The decoupling capacitors are removed in this example to provide a clean signal. This is shown in Figure 2.Continue reading Embedded World 2019 Conference Talk