A simple power analysis attack on a McEliece cryptoprocessor

H. Gregor Molter, Marc Stöttinger, Abdulhadi Shoufan, Falko Strenzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The security of McEliece public-key cryptosystem is based on the difficulty of the decoding problem which is NP-hard. In this article, we propose a simple power analysis attack on this cryptosystem. The attack exploits an information leakage, which results from the relation between the error vector weight and the iteration number of the extended Euclidean algorithm used in Patterson Algorithm. Executing the proposed attacks enables the extraction of the secret error vector, and thus the plain text with minimal overhead. A countermeasure is presented which removes the information leakage and prevents the simple power analysis attack. The attack procedure and the countermeasure are applied to a cryptoprocessor implementation of the McEliece cryptosystem running on a FPGA platform.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cryptographic Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Code-based cryptography
  • Countermeasure
  • McEliece public-key cryptosystems
  • Simple power analysis attack


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