Low Energy Chip for Preventing Side Channel Attacks

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A low energy security chip has been designed recently by two Indian researchers from India to prevent Side Channel Attacks (SCAs) on IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Security Chip is the application specific integrated circuit which instantiates the security features after being embedded in the device. Rather than targeting the program or its code directly, SCA aims to gather information from or influence the program execution of a system or its hardware. Near threshold computing is used by the chip which is a computing method wherein the data that is to be worked upon gets split into a separate, unique, and random components.

IoT describes physical objects or group of objects with processing ability, sensors, software, and other technologies connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet as well as other communications networks. IoT is being used for creation of smart infrastructure in various verticals like Power, Automotive, Safety & Surveillance, Remote Health Management, Smart Homes and Smart Cities, Agriculture using connected devices.

Types of SCAs


  • SCAs measure timing information, power consumption and electromagnetic leaks of a system.
  • They aim to extract sensitive information like cryptographic keys, proprietary machine learning models and parameters.
  • It may also be referred to as a sidebar attack or an implementation attack.
  • SCAs could be applied to any data that is to be kept secret.
  • One of the examples is that of smartwatch wherein SCA could be used for extracting ECG and heart rate signal.
  • They are difficult to execute on most modern systems.
  • It could be easily incorporated into smartwatches, tablets including a variety of other devices.
  • It could be used in any sensor node that connects user data, self-driving cars, fingerprint matching devices and many other applications as well.
  • It could be used for monitoring sensors in the oil and gas industry.

SCAs Becoming a Reality

  • Increasing sophistication of machine learning algorithms.
  • Greater computing power of devices.
  • Measuring devices with increasing sensitivities.

Issues Involved

  • At least a five-fold increase in energy consumption is required for implementation of this chip architecture in a system which is 1.6 times the silicon area of an insecure communication.
  • The architecture only provides protection against energy consumption-based SCAs.
  • The architecture doesn՚t defend against electromagnetic SCAs.

Side Channel Attacking Works

  • For reconstructing target process, the attackers use collected data.
  • Emissions are intercepted by the attackers.
  • Electromagnetic waves are emitted by the target computers.

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