On the Ineffectiveness of Internal Encodings - Revisiting the DCA Attack on White-Box Cryptography

  • Estuardo Alpirez BockEmail author
  • Chris Brzuska
  • Wil Michiels
  • Alexander Treff
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10892)


The goal of white-box cryptography is to implement cryptographic algorithms securely in software in the presence of an adversary that has complete access to the software’s program code and execution environment. In particular, white-box cryptography needs to protect the embedded secret key from being extracted. Bos et al. (CHES 2016) introduced differential computational analysis (DCA), the first automated attack on white-box cryptography. The DCA attack performs a statistical analysis on execution traces. These traces contain information such as memory addresses or register values, that is collected via binary instrumentation tooling during the encryption process. The white-box implementations that were attacked by Bos et al., as well as white-box implementations that have been described in the literature, protect the embedded key by using internal encodings techniques introduced by Chow et al. (SAC 2002). Thereby, a combination of linear and non-liner nibble encodings is used to protect the secret key. In this paper we analyse the use of such internal encodings and prove rigorously that they are too weak to protect against DCA. We prove that the use of non-linear nibble encodings does not hide key dependent correlations, such that a DCA attack succeeds with high probability.


White-box cryptography Differential computational analysis Software execution traces Mixing bijections 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous referee for his/her helpful comments. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the COST Action IC1306. Chris Brzuska is grateful to NXP for supporting his chair for IT Security Analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Estuardo Alpirez Bock
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Chris Brzuska
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wil Michiels
    • 3
    • 4
  • Alexander Treff
    • 1
  1. 1.Hamburg University of TechnologyHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Aalto UniversityEspooFinland
  3. 3.NXP SemiconductorsEindhovenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Technische Universiteit EindhovenEindhovenThe Netherlands

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