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Watch Out When You Put Your Key in A Lock … Someone May Be Creating A Copy Of Your Key

I love side channels … leaking information through non-obvious sources such as from sound, electromagnetic signals and electrical noise. Now, researchers have should how it is possible to print a 3D for a lock based on listening to the pins falling within a lock [here]:

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Cracking Keys through side-channels

The cracking of encryption keys has often involved brute force methods or targeting flaws in its implementation. There is, though, increasing interest in physical side-channel attacks where there is an unintentional information leakage of cryptography information, such as from electromagnetic radiation, power consumption, electric voltage fluctuations, and even sound and thermal variations. Few companies currently protect their devices against side-channel attacks, especially as it would prove costly, and require extensive testing with complex equipment.

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Power analysis

The work of modulating the power rails on chips is well documented for discovering encryption keys, where the security and protection of the key are reduced. There has also been work on a “cold boot” where the memory chips are frozen, and which keep their bit states:

Differential Power analysis on SIM cards

So up to now, we all thought that SIM cards were secure from most types of attack. But Prof Yu-Yu from Shanghai Jiao Tong University has now shown that 3G/4G SIM cards, using 128-bit AES, can be hacked — so the nightmare of SIM card cloning could come true [paper].

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Conclusions

Why is this so interesting to us? Well, our research team … including Dr Owen Lo … have been investigating side-channel attacks on devices … and can crack 128-bit AES keys in less than 30 minutes, just by listening to the power supply …

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. EU Citizen. Auld Reekie native. Old World Breaker. New World Creator.

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