Journal of Cryptographic Engineering

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 5–27

Introduction to differential power analysis


  • Paul Kocher
    • Cryptography Research, Inc
    • Cryptography Research, Inc
  • Benjamin Jun
    • Cryptography Research, Inc
  • Pankaj Rohatgi
    • Cryptography Research, Inc
Open AccessRegular Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s13389-011-0006-y


The power consumed by a circuit varies according to the activity of its individual transistors and other components. As a result, measurements of the power used by actual computers or microchips contain information about the operations being performed and the data being processed. Cryptographic designs have traditionally assumed that secrets are manipulated in environments that expose no information beyond the specified inputs and outputs. This paper examines how information leaked through power consumption and other side channels can be analyzed to extract secret keys from a wide range of devices. The attacks are practical, non-invasive, and highly effective—even against complex and noisy systems where cryptographic computations account for only a small fraction of the overall power consumption. We also introduce approaches for preventing DPA attacks and for building cryptosystems that remain secure even when implemented in hardware that leaks.


Differential power analysis DPA SPA Side-channel attacks Tamper resistance Cryptanalysis


The authors would like to thank their colleagues Jeremy Cooper, Gilbert Goodwill, Chris Gori, Nate Lawson, Mark Marson, Trevor Perrin, Takeshi Sugawara and Luke Teyssier for their contributions to the development of the DPA Workstation platform and to its analysis and visualization tools that were used in this paper. We would also like to thank the RCIS team at AIST Japan and Tohoku University for creating and generously sharing the SASEBO platform which was used in this paper.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011