Additional resources to help understand power analysis?


I’m enjoying my experience with the ChipWhisperer-Lite, especially the voltage glitching tasks. However, I’m finding it hard to grasp power analysis, particularly with the encryption sections in the Jupyter notebooks—I end up just executing the cells without real understanding. Does anyone know of any beginner-friendly books or resources on this subject? I’m looking for something basic, as I have a foundational knowledge of electronics and already own the Hardware Hacking Handbook. My aim is to apply this to small IoT devices as a hobby.

Additionally, how do I identify if a device is incompatible with the ChipWhisperer-Lite? For instance, if a device’s CPU operates above 105MHz or if it has a dual-core, does that mean it won’t work with the ChipWhisperer-Lite?


1- We do our best to make it beginner friendly in the courses, however I understand that the fundamentals can be hard to grasp. Others may have better recommendations, but if you want to really understand how the basic CPA and DPA attacks work, I would start with the foundational papers:

There is also the classic textbook: Power Analysis Attacks: Revealing the Secrets of Smart Cards | SpringerLink

Be prepared to invest some time, but it’s worth it.

2- It’s not so much as “incompatible” as it is “decreased chances of success”. The main requirements that maximize suitability of CW-lite are (a) target clock rate is <= 105 MHz, (b) target clock is accessible, so that CW can sample synchronously. If those aren’t met, it just makes attacks harder.

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I like this review about SCA principles and common techniques:

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@jpthibault Thanks for the reply! I read the first few chapters of Power Analysis Attacks and it is making a little more sense now. I ran through the notebooks again and I’m even more confused. Once the maths and equations come out my brain shuts off. I barely remember high school algebra :frowning: I’ll keep at it but so far its looking like I will give up on power analysis for crypto stuff.

@TurangaLeela Thanks! I’ll take a look into that article. Power analysis makes sense until the maths/equations come out. I barely remember high school maths.