Cache Timing Attacks on Public Key Encryption

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Date
2017-08-28
Department
Major/Subject
Security and Mobile Computing
Mcode
T3011
Degree programme
Master's Degree Programme in Security and Mobile Computing (NordSecMob)
Language
en
Pages
104
Series
Abstract
The rise of cloud computing has made it a lot easier for attackers to be able to run code on the same processors as their target. This has made many attacks more viable. This thesis discusses a cache timing attack targeting the LibTomMath library. LibTom-Math is a mathematical library for computations using large integers. The library is used in some cryptographic libraries such the commercial solution WolfCrypt. The attack mainly focuses on the modular exponentiation function of LibTom-Math which is a major part of RSA implementations. The aim of the attack is to use cache timing in order to extract the long term private key used by the server for encrypting communications. Recovering the private key, gives the attacker access to past and future communications secured using this key, which usually has a lifespan of at least one year. The attack only requires that it shares a processor with the victim and works even if the attack process and the victim process are running on different Virtual Machines. The thesis includes a description of the RSA cipher as well as the various optimizations that are used in a lot of cryptographic libraries. Next, it describes how to use cache timing to exploit some of those optimizations in order to gain information about the secret exponent based on the memory access patterns of the target code. Finally, it discusses the limitations of the attack as well as how cloud service providers, cryptographic library developers, as well as processor manufacturers, may be able to mitigate this class of attacks.
Description
Supervisor
Ylä-Jääski, Antti
Thesis advisor
Tischhauser, Elmar
Keywords
cryptography, cryptanalysis, RSA, cache timing
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