Vincent Giraud's PhD Thesis - Exploration of Code Security and of Operating System Security

Vincent Giraud’s PhD thesis, titled Exploration of Code Security and Operating System Security, is currently in progress at Wordline hardware security labs. His thesis is co-supervised by David Naccache from ENS Paris, and it commenced in September 2020.


Vincent’s research focuses on exploring code protection techniques against recent attacks, particularly Return-Oriented Programming (ROP) and deobfuscation. The approach involves simplifying target architectures for modeling purposes and creating secure compilers to introduce automated protections into the code. The results of the thesis will find applications in securing Android applications, white box cryptography, obfuscation, and reverse engineering.

In the second phase, Vincent will investigate code hardening using biologically-inspired mechanisms. This research stream draws analogies between computer attacks and biological pathogen propagation to model and understand security risks. Mathematical models developed for capturing the dynamics of biological systems, such as immune systems and epidemics, will be adapted. The research explores Moving Target Defense, where systems are designed to guarantee a specified level of service even in corrupted environments.

As information systems’ complexity approaches that of living organisms, Vincent’s work blends code analysis, genetic algorithms, and formal methods.


  1. Vincent Giraud, and David Naccache - In Advances in Information and Computer Security - 18th International Workshop on Security, IWSEC 2023, Yokohama, Japan, August 29-31, 2023, Proceedings (2023)

    Efficient power management is critical for embedded devices, both for extending their lifetime and ensuring safety. However, this can be a challenging task due to the unpredictability of the batteries commonly used in such devices. To address this issue, dedicated Integrated Circuits (ICs) known as “fuel gauges” are often employed outside of the System- on-Chip (SoC). These devices provide various metrics about the available energy source and are highly accurate. However, their precision can also be exploited by malicious actors to compromise platform confidentiality if the Operating System (OS) fails to intervene. Depending on the fuel gauge and OS configuration, several attack scenarios are possible. In this article, we focus on Android and demonstrate how it is possible to bypass application isolation to recover Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) entered in other processes.

  2. Vincent Giraud, and Guillaume Bouffard - In IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy, EuroS&P 2023 - Workshops, Delft, Netherlands, July 3-7, 2023 (2023)

    Private and public actors increasingly encounter use cases where they need to implement sensitive operations on mass-market peripherals for which they have little or no control. They are sometimes inclined to attempt this without using hardware-assisted equipment, such as secure elements. In this case, the white-box attack model is particularly relevant and includes access to every asset, retro-engineering, and binary instrumentation by attackers. At the same time, quantum attacks are becoming more and more of a threat and challenge traditional asymmetrical ciphers, which are treasured by private and public actors. The McEliece cryptosystem is a code-based public key algorithm introduced in 1978 that is not subject to well-known quantum attacks and that could be implemented in an uncontrolled environment. During the NIST post-quantum cryptography standardization process [17], a derived candidate commonly refer to as classic McEliece was selected. This algorithm is however vulnerable to some fault injection attacks [7] while a priori, this does not apply to the original McEliece. In this article, we thus focus on the original McEliece cryptosystem and we study its resilience against fault injection attacks on an ARM reference implementation [18]. We disclose the first fault injection based attack and we discuss on how to modify the original McEliece cryptosystem to make it resilient to fault injection attacks.

  3. Vincent Giraud, and David Naccache - In Symposium sur la sécurité des technologies de l’information et des communications (SSTIC), 7–9 june 2023, Rennes, France (2023)

    La gestion de l’alimentation est cruciale pour les périphériques embarqués. Cette tâche est complexe en raison des incertitudes liées aux batteries qui les alimentent. Elle est souvent confiée à des circuits intégrés dédiés, appelés jauges de carburant, qui sont précis et efficaces, mais peuvent également être utilisés pour des activités malveillantes qui mettent en danger la confidentialité de la plateforme. Dans cet article, nous montrons comment l’isolation inter-applications peut être contournée sur Android, en nous concentrant sur la récupération d’un code personnel d’identification entré sur un autre processus.

  4. Vincent Giraud, and Guillaume Bouffard - Journée thématique sur les attaques par injection de fautes (JAIF), 2022, Valence, France (2022)

    To perform sensitive operations, it is common to to use secure components: thanks to their various protections, they can protection, they can act as a root of trust. However, one may be forced to use alternative solutions as they are not available in all information systems. in all information systems. The industry deploy an approach based on software obfuscation, which is less software, which is less secure than those based on a hardware component. component. White-box cryptography is one of them: each intermediate step is precomputed and hidden, while the global semantics. Although it is purely software, hardware attacks could be transposed to it. be transposed to it. By instrumenting a program, one can by creating unexpected states in the program. unexpected states. As the needs of the industry are becoming more industry, research is now focusing on features such as such as resistance to quantum attacks and asymmetric and the asymmetric possibilities of cryptographic schemes. cryptographic schemes. These aspects are leading to the resurgence of specifications such as McEliece’s. In our work, we study the security of a cryptographic white box implementing implementing the McEliece algorithm and its resistance to attacks. In this talk, we will also also question the applicability in the software world of existing world of existing countermeasures used in hardware components. hardware components.


  1. Bypassing Android isolation with fuel gauges: new risks with advanced power ICs

    Vincent Giraud, and David Naccache - Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/1078 (2023)