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Power Consumption versus Hardware Security: Feasibility Study of Differential Power Attack on Linear Feedback Shift Register Based Stream Ciphers and Its Countermeasures

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This paper demonstrates a trade off between the security of a crypto-system and its power consumption. Digital stream ciphers are extensively employed in Crypto-systems. Many of them use linear feedback shift registers (LFSRs) as building blocks, wherein, an n-degree primitive connection polynomial is used as a feedback function to realize an n-bit LFSR. Using finite-field theory and electromagnetic-circuit theory, we show that such LFSRs are susceptible to differential power attacks (DPAs), without the adversary's prior knowledge of the primitive polynomial. It is interesting to note that the DPA becomes more prominent with technology scaling due to increased contribution of local interconnect to total power. The paper also presents two countermeasures for the proposed DPA that results in a trade off with power consumption. With the growing need for crypto-systems in low-power Internet-of-Things (IoTs) devices, this case study highlighting a power-security trade off is of great significance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-06-01

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  • The electronic systems that can operate with very low power are of great technological interest. The growing research activity in the field of low power electronics requires a forum for rapid dissemination of important results: Journal of Low Power Electronics (JOLPE) is that international forum which offers scientists and engineers timely, peer-reviewed research in this field.
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