Rambus renews DPA countermeasures license with Thales e-Security

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016.

Rambus has renewed its Differential Power Analysis (DPA) countermeasures license agreement with Thales e-Security. Under the new five-year agreement, the Thales line of hardware security modules (HSMs) will be protected against side-channel attacks in a variety of systems, including high-performance data center appliances.

“Cyber-threats and attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and pervasive. Thales products are designed to help organizations stay ahead of the security game by protecting sensitive information from compromise,” said Cindy Provin, chief strategy and marketing officer at Thales e-Security. “By adding Rambus DPA countermeasures, we are able to protect against side-channel attacks, which adds an important element in our robust data security solutions.”

Dr. Martin Scott, senior VP and general manager of the Security Division at Rambus, expressed similar sentiments.

“Thales recognizes the various threats posed by side-channel attacks and has developed solutions that help their customers in businesses, governments and technology sectors mitigate the growing risk associated with these types of attacks,” Scott explained. “Strong countermeasures against these attacks provide the security needed to protect sensitive data and make sure attacks are thwarted.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press, Differential Power Analysis is a form of side-channel attack that monitors variations in the electrical power consumption or electro-magnetic emissions of a target device. The basic method involves partitioning a set of traces into subsets, then subsequently computing the difference of the averages of these subsets. Given enough traces, extremely minute correlations can be isolated—no matter how much noise is present in the measurements.

Image Credit: Rambus Security Division (via “Introduction to Differential Power Analysis”)

A typical DPA attack comprises 6 primary stages: communicating with a target device; recording power traces while the target device performs cryptographic operations; signal processing to remove errors and reduce noise; prediction and selection function generation to prepare and define for analysis; as well as computing the averages of input trace subsets and evaluating DPA test results to determine the most probable key guesses. Additional DPA variants include reverse engineering unknown S-boxes and algorithms, correlation power analysis (CPA), probability distribution analysis, high-order DPA and template attacks.

Specific DPA countermeasure techniques include decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio of the power side channel by reducing leakage (signal) or increasing noise, for example, by making the amount of power consumed less contingent upon data values and/or operation (balancing); introducing amplitude and temporal noise; incorporating randomness with blinding and masking by randomly altering the representation of secret parameters and implementing protocol-level countermeasures by continually refreshing and updating cryptographic protocols used by a device.

It should be noted that Rambus has licensed a range of DPA countermeasures to a number of prominent corporations such as Boeing, NVIDIA, Idaho Scientific, The Athena Group, NAGRA and Winbond.

Interested in learning more? You can check out our DPA countermeasures product page here and our article archive on the subject here.