Perform Power Analysis Side-Channel Attacks with the ChipWhisperer-Nano

Perform Power Analysis Side-Channel Attacks with the ChipWhisperer-Nano

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If you have ever considered the option of using encryption in your design, then you should be able to perform a side-channel attack as well as understand the consequences of such an attack on your product. While oscilloscopes and differential probes can be helpful in traditional power analysis attacks especially at the initial stage, these tools can be a bit of overkill for most analyses and also very expensive.

The ChipWhisperer series aims at nothing short of causing a fundamental change in the entire embedded security industry. A combination of documentation, training, open-source software and hardware makes it easy to master hardware security problems.

Whisperer Nano

The new ChipWhisperer-Nano from NewAE technology is a small form factor tool that contains a capture device as well as an STM32- based target both for side-channel attacks and for learning. Designed primarily for power analysis demonstrations and training programs, this latest release in the ChipWhisperer series is an ultra-low-cost platform for voltage fault injection and side-channel analysis.

Some of the features of the Chip Whisperer Nano include:

  • STM32F030 target for loading example code and a programmer built into the CWNANO.
  • Crowbar based VCC glitching with about 10nS resolution on the width of the glitch and glitch offset from the trigger with up to 200nS jitter.
  • ADC for sampling up to 20MS/s with either an internal clock (both synchronous and asynchronous) or an external clock (synchronous to the device).
  • ADC hardware trigger that uses rising-edge input and samples for user-configurable length.

The ChipWhisperer NANO’s capture hardware has a dedicated 8-bit ADC chip interfaced with a microcontroller which helps to sample the power rail and provide information back to the software. It then provides frequency and timing analysis of the power signal while the target runs its algorithms.

Example of Chipwhisperer Analyzer Software

Although the ChipWhisperer Nano lacks some other glitching features when compared with the other larger and more expensive tools in the SCA tool portfolio like the Pro and Lite, the ChipWhisperer Nano is an excellent learning tool with an estimated BOM cost of about $20 for a single unit.

The nature of the ChipWhisperer, being open source also makes it possible to engage the research community at large and at the same time, provides low-cost reference hardware. The Jupyter-based documentation provides examples like analysis for password bypass and AES attacks using different techniques.

To download the open-source software and various hardware options including the PDF schematic of the CWNANO, you can visit the ChipWhisperer GitHub repo or check ChipWhisperer-Nano website for information specific to the product.

About Emmanuel Odunlade
Email : emmaodunlade@gmail.com Website :

Hardware Design Engineer | #IoT Consultant |All things #ML | Entrepreneur | Serial Writer | Passionate about Innovation and technology as tools for solving problems in developing countries. Spare time is spent around writing and advocacy for the growth of the Maker/DIY Culture in Africa.

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