Taiwanese hardware designers say that the cloud based services are vulnerable to data leakage threat due to side-channel attacks. The side-channel attacks steal cryptographic keys used by cloud servers leaving the servers under great threat. Researchers at Taiwanese National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) have developed a chip that resists side-channel attacks.
According to Chen-Yi Lee, professor in NCTU, the new chip follows a simplified way to do encryption and decryption. It has a random-number generator to prevent side-channel attacks in such a way that hackers will have to spend at least five years to collect the details which otherwise will take at most one day.
The engineers have adopted a heterogeneous dual-processing-element architecture, which balances both computation time and power consumption during different types of operations. This is because malware uses computation time and power consumption information as clues. Now the new design disallows the hackers from detecting characteristic changes in the length of computations that could reveal cryptographic keys. The ability of the chip to generate random numbers is enhanced by a new digitally controlled oscillator.
The side-channel-attack-resistant ECC chip costs about 5 percent more than the cost of a standard encryption chip, and consumes about 5 percent more power.