Advanced side channel applied on post-quantum cryptography

Published : 1 January 2023

The development of quantum computing threatens asymmetric cryptography. To address this threat, post-quantum cryptography (PQC) schemes, i.e. based on quantum computer resistant problems, have been proposed. The third round of the NIST PQC competition ended on July 5, 2022. The CRYSTALS-Kyber algorithm was selected for standardization. The history of cryptographic algorithms standardization shows that it should therefore be quickly adopted and soon embedded in secure products. Nevertheless, the road to fully secure implementations, in particular against physical attacks, remains long. The community is therefore actively studying the vulnerability of PQC schemes against physical attacks.

In parallel, the search for vulnerabilities remains a necessary step towards hardware-secure implementations, and advanced techniques of side-channel analysis have been developed. The LTSO laboratory contributes to the theoretical and material advances of the field, in particular via the contribution of artificial intelligence based methods.

The aim of this thesis is to characterize the vulnerability of PQC algorithms (in particular the CRYSTALS-Kyber scheme) against side-channel attacks in restrictive contexts (from the attacker perspective) such as implementations on high-end processors. The main research focus will be the exploration of new attacks that threaten the security of Kyber. This work will guide the development of countermeasures, as well as provide tools to characterize the security of our internal developments. Ultimately, the solutions of our partners will benefit from it.

The main topics that will be addressed in this thesis are:

– python programming,

– cryptography,

– statistics and artificial intelligence,

– embedded system (architecture, programming…),

– signal processing.

Skill in all these fields are not required. Nevertheless, a curiosity about these subjects will be appreciated. The candidate will be accompanied by the LTSO laboratory team, and will have access to its hardware resources, computing units and analysis tools.

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