MaskedNet: The First Hardware Inference Engine Aiming Power Side-Channel Protection


Differential Power Analysis (DPA) has been an active area of research for the past two decades to study the attacks for extracting secret information from cryptographic implementations through power measurements and their defenses. Unfortunately, the research on power side-channels have so far predominantly focused on analyzing implementations of ciphers such as AES, DES, RSA, and recently post-quantum cryptography primitives (e.g., lattices). Meanwhile, machine-learning, and in particular deep-learning applications are becoming ubiquitous with several scenarios where the Machine Learning Models are Intellectual Properties requiring confidentiality. Expanding side-channel analysis to Machine Learning Model extraction, however, is largely unexplored. This paper expands the DPA framework to neural-network classifiers. First, it shows DPA attacks during inference to extract the secret model parameters such as weights and biases of a neural network. Second, it proposes the first countermeasures against these attacks by augmenting masking. The resulting design uses novel masked components such as masked adder trees for fully-connected layers and masked Rectifier Linear Units for activation functions. On a SAKURA-X FPGA board, experiments show that the first-order DPA attacks on the unprotected implementation can succeed with only 200 traces and our protection respectively increases the latency and area-cost by 2.8x and 2.3x.

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Anuj Dubey
Anuj Dubey
PhD Student

I work towards secure hardware-software co-design of systems.