Welcome to the SMAesH Challenge

The SMAesH challenge is a side-channel analysis contest on SMAesH, a masked FPGA implementation of the AES. Using the public profiling dataset and the open-source hardware design, the goal is to mount a key-recovery attack using as few traces as possible.

The SMAesH challenge was the CHES2023 challenge.

Get started now!

The winners were announced at the CHES2023 rump session slides, but the challenge continues: see the leaderboard and new submission instructions!

N.B.: We maintain a list of all attacks, including those that are not proper submissions (e.g., do not follow the correct format or do not respect the rules): please send them to us.

Key features

Open-source target: open-source AES implementation running on widespread SCA board: CW305 and Sakura-G with reproducible acquisition setup.

Public datasets: 16 million traces with random key and plaintext, 16 million traces with fixed key and random plaintext, covering 2 AES rounds (~4,500 samples per trace).

Simple example attack (that works) as a starting point: you can easily start by improving it.

Profiling challenge: the profiling dataset for the Artix-7 target (CW305) contains the values of all the shares in the executions, while the one for the Spartan-6 (Sakura-G) contains only the unmasked values.

Attack success criterion: rank of the key below \(1 \text{BTC-H}\cdot\mathrm{s}\), defined as the number of blocks hashed by the Bitcoin mining network in 1 second (fixed to \(2^{68}\) for the duration of the challenge).

Efficient implementation good latency vs area trade-off with 32-bit wide masked datapath (4 Sboxes in parallel).

Arbitrary-order masking: if you completely break the first-order design, there is more to come!

Attack ideas

The demo submission implements a textbook attack against the AES S-box output that should be easy to improve. We next share a few ideas of alternative strategies that could be used for this purpose:

  • Try to re-use the demo submission with fewer traces! This is a quick and efficient way to gain points for early candidates.
  • Exploit more leakage points: the demo targets the shares of the S-box output which lies in the combinatorial logic, but the masked states in the bitslice S-box or the output of MixColumns leak more.
  • Profile larger target intermediate values: for example, the masked states in the bitslice S-box are larger than 8-bit despite they only depend on 8 key bits, and the output of MixColumns naturally depends on 32 key bits.
  • Perform multi-target and multivariate attacks: there are multiple leaking operations in the implementations, which can be exploited with advanced statistical attacks (e.g., analytical strategies or machine learning).
  • Try different profiling strategies: for low number of shares, directly profiling with a machine learning model without taking advantage of the shares' knowledge could be possible.
  • Perform cross-dataset transfer learning: we provide more profiling power for the Artix-7 than for the Spartan-6.
  • Exploit the leakage of the key scheduling algorithm.

You can also have a look at the existing open-source attacks!


  • 2023-05-08 Challenge launch with Artix-7 target, submission server opens.
  • 2023-07-03 Launch of the Spartan-6 target.
  • 2023-09-1 Submission server closes.
  • 2023-09-10 (at CHES) Award ceremony.
  • 2023-10-19! Full dataset public release. The challenge continues with self-evaluation! See the leaderboard.

Contact information


This challenge is organized by the SIMPLE-Crypto Association, a non-profit organization created in order to develop open source cryptographic implementations and to maintain them over time, currently with a strong focus on embedded implementation with strong physical security guarantees.

The contributors involved in this project are Gaëtan Cassiers, Charles Momin and François-Xavier Standaert.