[Resource Topic] 2024/072: 1/0 Shades of UC: Photonic Side-Channel Analysis of Universal Circuits

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1/0 Shades of UC: Photonic Side-Channel Analysis of Universal Circuits

Authors: Dev M. Mehta, Mohammad Hashemi, Domenic Forte, Shahin Tajik, Fatemeh Ganji


A universal circuit (UC) can be thought of as a programmable circuit that
can simulate any circuit up to a certain size by specifying its secret configuration bits. UCs have been incorporated into various applications, such as private function evaluation (PFE). Recently, studies have attempted to formalize the concept of semiconductor intellectual property (IP) protection in the context of UCs. This is despite the observations made in theory and practice that, in reality, the adversary may obtain additional information about the secret when executing cryptographic protocols. This paper aims to answer the question of whether UCs leak information unintentionally, which can be leveraged by the adversary to disclose the configuration bits. In this regard, we propose the first photon emission analysis against UCs relying on computer vision-based approaches. We demonstrate that the adversary can utilize a cost-effective solution to take images to be processed by off-the-shelf algorithms to extract configuration bits. We examine the efficacy of our method in two scenarios: (1) the design is small enough to be captured in a single image during the attack phase, and (2) multiple images should be captured to launch the attack by deploying a divide-and-conquer strategy. To evaluate the effectiveness of our attack, we use metrics commonly applied in side-channel analysis, namely rank and success rate. By doing so, we show that our profiled photon emission analysis achieves a success rate of 1 by employing a few templates (concretely, only 18 images were used as templates).

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2024/072

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