In this paper, we present a practicable chosen ciphertext timing attack retrieving the secret key of HQC. The attack exploits a correlation between the weight of the error to be decoded and the running time of the decoding algorithm of BCH codes. For the 128-bit security parameters of HQC, the attack runs in less than a minute on a desktop computer using 5441 decoding requests and has a success probability of approximately 93 percent. To prevent this attack, we propose a constant time algorithm for the decoding of BCH codes.
Our implementation of the countermeasure achieves a constant time execution of the decoding process without a significant performance penalty.