The Myth of Generic DPA…and the Magic of Learning

  • Carolyn Whitnall
  • Elisabeth Oswald
  • François-Xavier Standaert
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8366)


A generic DPA strategy is one which is able to recover secret information from physically observable device leakage without any a priori knowledge about the device’s leakage characteristics. Here we provide much-needed clarification on results emerging from the existing literature, demonstrating precisely that such methods (strictly defined) are inherently restricted to a very limited selection of target functions. Continuing to search related techniques for a ‘silver bullet’ generic attack appears a bootless errand. However, we find that a minor relaxation of the strict definition—the incorporation of some minimal non-device-specific intuition—produces scope for generic-emulating strategies, able to succeed against a far wider range of targets. We present stepwise regression as an example of such, and demonstrate its effectiveness in a variety of scenarios. We also give some evidence that its practical performance matches that of ‘best bit’ DoM attacks which we take as further indication for the necessity of performing profiled attacks in the context of device evaluations.


side-channel analysis differential power analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn Whitnall
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Oswald
    • 1
  • François-Xavier Standaert
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.UCL Crypto GroupUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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