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Section: New Results

Constant-time verification by compilation and static analysis

Participants : Sandrine Blazy, David Pichardie, Alix Trieu.

To protect their implementations, cryptographers follow a very strict programming discipline called constant-time programming. They avoid branchings controlled by secret data as an attacker could use timing attacks, which are a broad class of side-channel attacks that measure different execution times of a program in order to infer some of its secret values. Several real-world secure C libraries such as NaCl, mbedTLS, or Open Quantum Safe, follow this discipline. We propose an advanced static analysis, based on state-of-the-art techniques from abstract interpretation, to report time leakage during programming. To that purpose, we analyze source C programs and use full context-sensitive and arithmetic-aware alias analyses to track the tainted flows. We give semantic evidences of the correctness of our approach on a core language. We also present a prototype implementation for C programs that is based on the CompCert compiler toolchain and its companion Verasco static analyzer. We present verification results on various real-world constant-time programs and report on a successful verification of a challenging SHA-256 implementation that was out of scope of previous tool-assisted approaches. This work has been published at ESORICS'17 [27].

The previous technique is well-adapted to verify the constant-time discipline at source level and give feedback to programmers, but the final security property must be established on the executable form of the program. In a joint work with IMDEA Software (Gilles Barthe and Vincent Laporte), we propose an automated methodology for validating on low-level intermediate representations the results of a source-level static analysis. Our methodology relies on two main ingredients: a relative-safety checker, an instance of a relational verifier which proves that a program is safer than another, and a transformation of programs into defensive form which verifies the analysis results at runtime. We prove the soundness of the methodology, and provide a formally verified instantiation based on the Verasco verified C static analyzer and the CompCert verified C compiler. This work has been published at CSF'17 [24].