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DarkMatter, Radbound University conduct research on cryptography

DarkMatter has announced a joint research project with Radboud University to focus on protocol-based side channel attack analysis and countermeasures.

Faisal Al Bannai, DarkMatter

The research project, which will initially run for a year, will conduct research on side channel attacks at a cryptographic protocol level, studying the impact of combining multiple cryptographic primitives across different inter-platform and intra-platform components.

The research will centre on the presentation of countermeasures at the level of system design as well as algorithm implementation aspects.

It will explore the often overlooked protocol-level leakages. In particular, this portion of the research will focus on: Unbounded (continuous) computational-leakage and its impact on data confidentiality and privacy; internal state and memory (cache) leakage and its impact on data confidentiality and privacy; analysis of leakage introduced through the authentication process; and analysis of leakage introduced through multi-threaded crypto, i.e., crypto operations running as multiple threads or on parallel processors / co-processors.

The side channel attack analysis will include simulation over several different platforms and environments, including a processor emulation environment; Android and iOS devices; server components; and sensors.

Faisal Al Bannai, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, DarkMatter, said, “This engagement fulfils another strategic pillar of DarkMatter’s drive to be at the forefront of cyber security innovation and develop our own intellectual property, either in our own right, or in partnership with leading technology providers and research institutions globally. We are pleased to be partnering with an institution as prestigious as Radboud University, which has an outstanding reputation as a research institution and I wish the combined research team from DarkMatter and Radboud University every success.”

The research project will also incorporate investigation of side channel attack countermeasures, which will be based on the findings from the initial analysis at the start of the project. During this stage, the research team will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the characteristics of security commands and crypto primitives while running on a processor; identify performance hotspots; and propose several countermeasures/optimisations to reduce source of leakage (power and electromagnetic emanations).

Dr. Najwa Aaraj, Senior Vice President of Special Projects, DarkMatter, said, “Cryptographic primitives and protocols are typically treated as mathematical components that are theoretically secure with an established formal security proof. However, in real-world applications, provable security is more often than not weakened by the actual implementation, and the properties of the device/system on which cryptographic primitives and protocols are deployed are often exploitable by a side channel attacker.”

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