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On the Security of Oscillator-Based Random Number Generators

Abstract : Physical random number generators (a.k.a. TRNGs) appear to be critical components of many cryptographic systems. Yet, such building blocks are still too seldom provided with a formal assessment of security, in comparison to what is achieved for conventional cryptography. In this work, we present a comprehensive statistical study of TRNGs based on the sampling of an oscillator subject to phase noise (a.k.a. phase jitters). This classical layout, typically instantiated with a ring oscillator, provides a simple and attractive way to implement a TRNG on a chip. Our mathematical study allows one to evaluate and control the main security parameters of such a random source, including its entropy rate and the biases of certain bit patterns, provided that a small number of physical parameters of the oscillator are known. In order to evaluate these parameters in a secure way, we also provide an experimental method for filtering out the global perturbations affecting a chip and possibly visible to an attacker. Finally, from our mathematical model, we deduce specific statistical tests applicable to the bitstream of a TRNG. In particular, in the case of an insecure configuration, we show how to recover the parameters of the underlying oscillator.
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Contributor : Marie-Annick Guillemer <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 8, 2011 - 2:46:04 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 10, 2020 - 4:04:58 PM

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Mathieu Baudet, David Lubicz, Julien Micolod, André Tassiaux. On the Security of Oscillator-Based Random Number Generators. Journal of Cryptology, Springer Verlag, 2011, 24 (2), pp.398-425. ⟨10.1007/s00145-010-9089-3⟩. ⟨hal-00584405⟩



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