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An Anti-Physical Attack Scheme of ARX Lightweight Algorithms for IoT Applications

Qiang Zhi1, Xiang Jiang1, Hangying Zhang2, Zhengshu Zhou3, Jianguo Ren1, Tong Huang4,*

1 School of Computer Science and Technology, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou, 221116, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Precision Measurement Technology and Instruments, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
3 Graduate School of Informatics, Nagoya University, Nagoya, 4648601, Japan
4 College of Chemical Engineering, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, 211816, China

* Corresponding Author: Tong Huang. Email:

Computer Systems Science and Engineering 2023, 46(1), 389-402.


The lightweight encryption algorithm based on Add-Rotation-XOR (ARX) operation has attracted much attention due to its high software affinity and fast operation speed. However, lacking an effective defense scheme for physical attacks limits the applications of the ARX algorithm. The critical challenge is how to weaken the direct dependence between the physical information and the secret key of the algorithm at a low cost. This study attempts to explore how to improve its physical security in practical application scenarios by analyzing the masking countermeasures of ARX algorithms and the leakage causes. Firstly, we specify a hierarchical security framework by quantitatively evaluating the indicators based on side-channel attacks. Then, optimize the masking algorithm to achieve a trade-off balance by leveraging the software-based local masking strategies and non-full-round masking strategies. Finally, refactor the assembly instruction to improve the leaks by exploring the leakage cause at assembly instruction. To illustrate the feasibility of the proposed scheme, we further conducted a case study by designing a software-based masking method for Chaskey. The experimental results show that the proposed method can effectively weaken the impact of physical attacks.


Cite This Article

Q. Zhi, X. Jiang, H. Zhang, Z. Zhou, J. Ren et al., "An anti-physical attack scheme of arx lightweight algorithms for iot applications," Computer Systems Science and Engineering, vol. 46, no.1, pp. 389–402, 2023.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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