On the Evaluation of Deep Learning-Based Side-Channel Analysis

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Deep learning-based side-channel analysis is rapidly positioning itself as a de-facto standard for the most powerful profiling side-channel analysis.The results from the last few years show that deep learning techniques can efficiently break targets that are even protected with countermeasures. While there are constant improvements in making the deep learning-based attacks more powerful, little is done on evaluating the attacks’ performance. Indeed, how the evaluation process is done today is not different from what was done more than a decade ago from the perspective of evaluation metrics. This paper considers how to evaluate deep learning-based side-channel analysis and whether the commonly used approaches give the best results. To that end, we consider different summary statistics and the influence of algorithmic randomness on the stability of profiling models. Our results show that besides commonly used metrics like guessing entropy, one should also show the standard deviation results to assess the attack performance properly. Even more importantly, using the arithmetic mean for guessing entropy does not yield the best results, and instead, a median value should be used.