Efficient Verification of Optimized Code: Correct High-speed Curve25519

12/17/2020
by   Marc Schoolderman, et al.
0

Code that is highly optimized poses a problem for program-level verification. Programmers can employ various clever tricks that are non-trivial to reason about. For cryptography on low-power devices, it is nonetheless crucial that implementations be functionally correct, secure, and efficient. These are usually crafted in hand-optimized machine code that eschew conventional control flow as much as possible. We have formally verified such code: a library which implements elliptic curve cryptography on 8-bit AVR microcontrollers. The chosen implementation is the most efficient currently known for this microarchitecture. It consists of over 3000 lines of assembly instructions. Building on earlier work, we use the Why3 platform to model the code and generate verification conditions, which are proven using automated provers. The approach is re-usable and adaptable, and allows for validation. Furthermore, an error in the original implementation was found and corrected, at the same time reducing its memory footprint. This shows that practical verification of cutting-edge code is not only possible, but can in fact add to its efficiency – and is clearly necessary.

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