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Hints from Hertz: Dynamic Frequency Scaling Side-Channel Analysis of Number Theoretic Transform in Lattice-Based KEMs
Authors: Tianrun Yu, Chi Cheng, Zilong Yang, Yingchen Wang, Yanbin Pan, Jian WengAbstract:
Number Theoretic Transform (NTT) has been widely used in accelerating computations in lattice-based cryptography. However, attackers can potentially launch power analysis targeting NTT because it is usually the most time-consuming part of the implementation. This extended time frame provides a natural window of opportunity for attackers. In this paper, we investigate the first CPU frequency leakage (Hertzbleed-like) attacks against NTT in lattice-based KEMs. Our key observation is that different inputs to NTT incur different Hamming weights in its output and intermediate layers. By measuring the CPU frequency during the execution of NTT, we propose a simple yet effective attack idea to find the input to NTT that triggers NTT processing data with significantly low Hamming weight. We further apply our attack idea to real-world applications that are built upon NTT: CPA-secure Kyber without Compression and Decompression functions, and CCA-secure NTTRU. This leads us to extract information or frequency Hints about the secret key. Integrating these Hints into the LWE-estimator framework, we estimate a minimum of 35\% security loss caused by the leakage. The frequency and timing measurements on the Reference and AVX2 implementations of NTT in both Kyber and NTTRU align well with our theoretical analysis, confirming the existence of frequency side-channel leakage in NTT. It is important to emphasize that our observation is not limited to a specific implementation but rather the algorithm on which NTT is based. Therefore, our results call for more attention to the analysis of power leakage against NTT in lattice-based cryptography.
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