Concealing Secrets in Embedded Processors Designs

Hannes Groß, Manuel Jelinek, Stefan Mangard, Thomas Unterluggauer, Mario Werner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks pose a serious threat to embedded systems. So far, the research on masking as a countermeasure against SCA focuses merely on cryptographic algorithms, and has either been implemented for particular hardware or software implementations. However, the drawbacks of protecting specific implementations are the lack of flexibility in terms of used algorithms, the impossibility to update protected hardware implementations, and long development cycles for protecting new algorithms. Furthermore, cryptographic algorithms are usually just one part of an embedded system that operates on informational assets. Protecting only this part of a system is thus not sufficient for most security critical embedded applications.

In this work, we introduce a flexible, SCA-protected processor design based on the open-source V-scale RISC-V processor. The introduced processor design can be synthesized to defeat SCA attacks of arbitrary attack order. Once synthesized, the processor protects the computation on security-sensitive data against side-channel leakage. The benefits of our approach are (1) flexibility and updatability, (2) faster development of SCA-protected systems, (3) transparency for software developers, (4) arbitrary SCA protection level, (5) protection not only for cryptographic algorithms, but against leakage in general caused by processing sensitive data.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication15th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference - CARDIS 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event15th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference : 15th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference - Cannes, France
Duration: 7 Nov 20169 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference15th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference
Abbreviated titleCARDIS


  • protected CPU
  • domain-oriented masking
  • masking
  • side-channel protection
  • threshold implementations
  • RISC-V
  • V-scale


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