[Cryptech Tech] RSA blinding (was: Re: Fun RSA implementation vulnerability: left-to-right sliding window modexp)

Rob Austein sra at hactrn.net
Sat Jul 1 20:55:28 UTC 2017

At Sat, 1 Jul 2017 09:02:07 +0000, Peter Gutmann wrote:
> Rob Austein <sra at hactrn.net> writes:
> >https://eprint.iacr.org/2017/627.pdf
> Before anyone panics too much, it's just another side-channel attack.  In this
> case it uses on a cache side-channel (which shouldn't be a problem in an HSM,
> but then it can use other side-channels), and since it requires multiple
> traces should be defeated by standard blinding countermeasures.

This raises a related question that Pavel and I had already been
discussing off-list.

At the moment, our RSA code unconditionally blinds when signing.  This
is intended primarily as a defense against side channel attacks (I
suppose it might also add some marginal protection against other kinds
of implementation bugs, but side-channel is why we did this).  I'm
reasonably certain that we should be doing this when using libtfm's
software modexp; the question is whether this should still be the
default when using one of our (theoretically constant-time) Verilog
modexp implementations.  All of this is of course configurable at
compile time, the question is what the default configuration should

We've left RSA blinding enabled unconditionally in all cases for now,
out of paranoia, but would be interested in opinions from wider heads
about how necessary this really is.

More information about the Tech mailing list