On recovering block cipher secret keys in the cold boot attack setting


This paper presents a general strategy to recover a block cipher secret key in the cold boot attack setting. More precisely, we propose a key-recovery method that combines key enumeration algorithms and Grover’s quantum algorithm to recover a block cipher secret key after an attacker has procured a noisy version of it via a cold boot attack. We also show how to implement the quantum component of our algorithm for several block ciphers such as AES, PRESENT and GIFT, and LowMC. Additionally, since evaluating the third-round post-quantum candidates of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) post-quantum standardization process against different attack vectors is of great importance for their overall assessment, we show the feasibility of performing our hybrid attack on Picnic, a post-quantum signature algorithm being an alternate candidate in the NIST post-quantum standardization competition. According to our results, our method may recover the Picnic private key for all Picnic parameter sets, tolerating up to 40% of noise for some of the parameter sets. Furthermore, we provide a detailed analysis of our method by giving the cost of its resources, its running time, and its success rate for various enumerations.

Gustavo Banegas
Gustavo Banegas
Senior Cryptographer

My research interests include post-quantum cryptanalysis and its implementations.