June 16, 2021

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Blind Side-Channel SIFA, by Melissa Azouaoui and Kostas Papagiannopoulos and Dominik Zürner

Statistical Ineffective Fault Attacks (SIFA) have been recently proposed as very powerful key-recovery strategies on symmetric cryptographic primitives’ implementations. Specically, they have been shown to bypass many common countermeasures against faults such as redundancy or infection, and to remain applicable even when side-channel countermeasures are deployed. In this work, we investigate combined side-channel and fault attacks and show that a profiled, SIFA-like attack can be applied despite not having any direct ciphertext knowledge. The proposed attack exploits the ciphertext’s side-channel and fault characteristics to mount successful key recoveries, even in the presence of masking and duplication countermeasures, at the cost of both side-channel and fault profiling. We analyze the attack using simulations, discuss its requirements, strengths and limitations, and compare different approaches to distinguish the correct key. Finally, we demonstrate its applicability on an ARM Cortex-M4 device, utilizing a combination of laser-based fault injection and microprobe-based EM side-channel analysis.