Increasing Side-Channel Resistance by Netlist Randomization and FPGA-Based Reconfiguration

Ali Asghar*, Benjamin Hettwer, Emil Karimov, Daniel Ziener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Modern FPGAs are equipped with the possibility of Partial Reconfiguration (PR) which along with other benefits can be used to enhance the security of cryptographic implementations. This feature requires development of alternative designs to be exchanged during run-time. In this work, we propose dynamically alterable circuits by exploring netlist randomization which can be utilized with PR as a countermeasure against physical attacks, in particular side-channel attacks. The proposed approach involves modification of an AES implementation at the netlist level in order to create circuit variants which are functionally identical but structurally different. In preliminary experiments, power traces of these variants have been shuffled to replicate the effect of partial reconfiguration. With these dynamic circuits, our experimental results show an increase in the resistance against power side-channel attacks by a factor of ∼ 12.6 on a Xilinx ZYNQ UltraScale+ device.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplied Reconfigurable Computing. Architectures, Tools, and Applications - 17th International Symposium, ARC 2021, Proceedings
EditorsSteven Derrien, Frank Hannig, Pedro C. Diniz, Daniel Chillet
PublisherSpringer Science + Business Media
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030790240
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event17th International Symposium on Applied Reconfigurable Computing, ARC 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 29 Jun 202130 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12700 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference17th International Symposium on Applied Reconfigurable Computing, ARC 2021
CityVirtual, Online


  • FPGAs
  • Partial reconfiguration
  • Power analysis attacks
  • Side-channel attacks


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