Evolving side-channel resistant reconfigurable hardware for elliptic curve cryptography

Bikash Poudel, Sushil J. Louis, Arslan Munir

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We propose to use a genetic algorithm to evolve novel reconfigurable hardware to implement elliptic curve cryptographic combinational logic circuits. Elliptic curve cryptography offers high security-level with a short key length making it one of the most popular public-key cryptosystems. Furthermore, there are no known sub-exponential algorithms for solving the elliptic curve discrete logarithm problem. These advantages render elliptic curve cryptography attractive for incorporating in many future cryptographic applications and protocols. However, elliptic curve cryptography has proven to be vulnerable to non-invasive side-channel analysis attacks such as timing, power, visible light, electromagnetic, and acoustic analysis attacks. In this paper, we use a genetic algorithm to address this vulnerability by evolving combinational logic circuits that correctly implement elliptic curve cryptographic hardware that is also resistant to simple timing and power analysis attacks. Using a fitness function composed of multiple objectives - maximizing correctness, minimizing propagation delays and minimizing circuit size, we can generate correct combinational logic circuits resistant to non-invasive, side channel attacks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work to evolve a cryptography circuit using a genetic algorithm. We implement evolved circuits in hardware on a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA. Results reveal that the evolutionary algorithm can successfully generate correct, and side-channel resistant combinational circuits with negligible propagation delay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2017 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2017 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781509046010
StatePublished - Jul 5 2017
Event2017 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2017 - Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
Duration: Jun 5 2017Jun 8 2017

Publication series

Name2017 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2017 - Proceedings


Other2017 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2017
CityDonostia-San Sebastian


  • Elliptic curve cryptography
  • Genetic algorithms
  • Reconfigurable hardware design
  • Side-channel attacks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Signal Processing


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