Cryptographic Cores Help FPGAs Fend Off DPA Attacks

Several of Actel Corp.’s FPGAs can now be used with cryptographic cores that offer differential-power-analysis (DPA) resistance. DPA, a form of component attack, involves statistically analysing power consumption measurements from a cryptosystem. Such an attack seeks out the biases of varying power consumption of microprocessors or other hardware while performing operations using secret keys.

DPA attacks have signal-processing and error-correction properties that can extract secrets from measurements containing too much noise to be analysed using simple power analysis. With DPA, infiltration can obtain secret keys by analysing power-consumption measurements from multiple cryptographic operations performed by a vulnerable smart card or other device.

In systems exposed to potential attackers, strong mathematical cryptography isn’t enough to protect secrets from leaking out of unintended side-channels, such as power-supply pins or via electromagnetic emanations. Now, customers designing with SmartFusion, Fusion, ProASIC3, and IGLOO devices can protect their secret keys from DPA attacks by implementing AES, GCM, or ECC intellectual-property cores developed by IP Cores Inc. These cores are claimed as the first commercially available FPGA-capable cryptographic cores offering DPA resistance.

“Anyone performing cryptographic operations in a fielded device in smart-grid or secure radio applications, for example, should be concerned about DPA,” says Dmitri Varsanofiev, CTO at IP Cores.  “These cores use patented techniques to protect the customers’ secret keys from being discovered using side-channel analysis.”

“Actel is ready to accept orders immediately for CRI-licensed SmartFusion, Fusion, ProASIC3, and IGLOO devices.” says Rich Kapusta, vice president of marketing and business development at Actel.

TAGS: Digital ICs
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