Faculty Advisor

Berk Sunar

Faculty Advisor

Xinming Huang

Faculty Advisor

Gunnar Gaubatz

Faculty Advisor

Fred J. Looft


"Side channel attacks (SCA) pose a serious threat on many cryptographic devices and are shown to be effective on many existing security algorithms which are in the black box model considered to be secure. These attacks are based on the key idea of recovering secret information using implementation specific side-channels. Especially active fault injection attacks are very effective in terms of breaking otherwise impervious cryptographic schemes. Various countermeasures have been proposed to provide security against these attacks. Double-Data-Rate (DDR) computation, dual-rail encoding, and simple concurrent error detection (CED) are the most popular of these solutions. Even though these security schemes provide sufficient security against weak adversaries, they can be broken relatively easily by a more advanced attacker. In this dissertation, we propose various error detection techniques that target strong adversaries with advanced fault injection capabilities. We first describe the advanced attacker in detail and provide its characteristics. As part of this definition, we provide a generic metric to measure the strength of an adversary. Next, we discuss various techniques for protecting finite state machines (FSMs) of cryptographic devices against active fault attacks. These techniques mainly depend on nonlinear robust codes and physically unclonable functions (PUFs). We show that due to the nonuniform behavior of FSM variables, securing FSMs using nonlinear codes is an important and difficult problem. As a solution to this problem, we propose error detection techniques based on nonlinear codes with different randomization methods. We also show how PUFs can be utilized to protect a class of FSMs. This solution provides security on the physical level as well as the logical level. In addition, for each technique, we provide possible hardware realizations and discuss area/security performance. Furthermore, we provide an error detection technique for protecting elliptic curve point addition and doubling operations against active fault attacks. This technique is based on nonlinear robust codes and provides nearly perfect error detection capability (except with exponentially small probability). We also conduct a comprehensive analysis in which we apply our technique to different elliptic curves (i.e. Weierstrass and Edwards) over different coordinate systems (i.e. affine and projective). "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Electrical & Computer Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Error Detection, Robust Codes, Advanced Attacker, Side Channel Attacks, Fault Attacks