Side-Channel Attacks (SCAs) – UPSC Prelims

Side-Channel Attacks (SCAs):
  • A SCA is a security exploit that aims to gather information from or influence the program execution of a system by measuring or exploiting indirect effects of the system or its hardware rather than targeting the program or its code directly.
  • Typically, SCAs aim to extract sensitive information like cryptographic keys, proprietary machine learning models and parameters by measuring things like timing information, power consumption and electromagnetic leaks of a system.
  • An SCA may also be referred to as a sidebar attack or an implementation attack.
  • It can be applied to any data that you want to keep secret.
  • For example, it can be used on your smartwatch to extract your ECG and heart rate signal,”
  • Types of SCAs: Timing attack, Electromagnetic (EM) attack, Acoustic, Power, Optical, memory Cache, hardware weaknesses.
  • Even though SCAs are difficult to execute on most modern systems, the increasing sophistication of machine learning algorithms, greater computing power of devices and measuring devices with increasing sensitivities are making SCAs more of a reality.