Image from: xkcd
The famous cryptographer Adi Shamir and his colleagues published a scientific paper titled “RSA Key Extraction via Low-Bandwidth Acoustic Cryptanalysis“
Many computers emit high frequency sound during operation, because of the vibrations in some electronic components (capacitors) caused due to microscopic variations in the voltage of the CPU during different workload on it. In theory, these sound vibrations can be analyzed in order to obtain information about the running application software, including cryptographic calculations. In 2004 year, Shamir and his colleagues have shown that different RSA keys cause different sound patterns, but back then it could not be understood how to extract individual bits keys. The main problem was that the sound equipment was unable to record sound with a high sampling frequency: 20 Khz only for conventional microphones and a few hundred kilohertz for ultrasonic microphones. This is many orders of magnitude low than several GHz, which is operated in modern computers.
Now they have demonstrated it with a software that extracts the full 4096-bit keys with GnuPG computers of various models after an hour of listening, if the computer all the time performs decryption. Conducted successful demonstration of such an attack using a smartphone, which lay 30 cm from the computer.
When using the directional microphone can attack from a distance of up to 4 metres.
If miniature hidden microphones are used, the maximum distance is about 1 meter. All equipment on the photos, in addition to microphones, can be hidden under a desk or in another discrete location.
At large scale, it seriously pose a threat and perhaps having organizational severs in fully shielded rooms would prevent it.
Photos from the paper.
Given the recent news about NSA’s ability to foil encryption soft wares, cryptographer Matthew Green and Kenneth White has started an initiative to examine the Truecrypt disk encryption tool.
Why does it matter?
Since NSA has been snooping in our data without us knowing, decryption of SSL connections and tampering with established standards to make them vulnerable, there needs to be an audit to verify that encryption softwares are truly as secure as they should be. For this very purpose there needs to be an extensive audit of softwares like Truecrypt which is used by many people, including me to a certain extent, for storing sensitive information.
How would the ‘audit’ work?
- First step would be to resolve license status on the current (v. 7.1a) TrueCrypt source code (license v. 3.0 ) copyright & distribution, in order to create a verified, independent version control history repository (signed source and binary)
- Perform and document repeatable, deterministic builds of TC 7.1a from source code for current major operating systems: Windows 7, Mac Mac OS X (Lion 10.7 and Mountain Lion 10.8), Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and 13.04, RedHat 6.4, CentOS 6.4, Debian 7.1, Fedora 19
- Conduct a public cryptanalysis and security audit of version 7.1a
I wholly support this cause and hope everyone would help ensure we have trustworthy encryption available.
To contribute you can check the FundFill site, or IndieGoGo site. [Note: Both sites accept Credit cards; Fundfill accepts Bitcoins and IndieGoGo accepts Paypal and eChecks]
Contributions are not limited to monetary only but if you’re an information security professional/expert/hobbyist then you can help identify bugs in the software.
Support the effort to audit TrueCrypt
Researchers from National Institute of Informatics(NII) have published a Web applications to advance the study of the quantum computer in the form of a game ‘meQuanics‘; previously called as “Qubit – the game“. It is basically a puzzle game where the puzzles are represented as circuit of the quantum computer. Each puzzle in meQuanics represents a real quantum algorithm. Even users who do not possess any knowledge of quantum mechanics can contribute to optimizing quantum circuits by solving the puzzles in the game. The stages/levels are divided into different circuits including : Shor, Josza, Bell, Muller and more.
The goal in the game is operating a ship that is loaded with quantum computer. If user can reduce the size of the puzzle that shows a quantum circuit, the speed of the ship is improved.
meQuanics is a project initiated in the Quantum Information Science Theory group (QIST) led by Prof. Kae Nemoto at the National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Simon Devitt and Prof. Nemoto conceived the idea during their ongoing research into large-scale quantum architecture design.
Currently meQuanics is provided as a Web application called trial version for now, but will be further developed as a fully integrated crowd sourced game for iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS and Linux platforms.
Here are some screenshots :
EDIT: For those who are curious in Quantum Algorithms visit : The quantum zoo
Researchers at IBM are so good at playing with atoms that they decided to make a movie (named A Boy and His Atom), by moving atoms. Awesome stuff. It is also named by the Guinness World Records organization, as the “world’s smallest movie.”
Quoted from here
Traffic analysis has been the primary method of malware identification and thousands of IDS signatures developed are the daily proof. Signatures definitely help but ability to visually recognize malware traffic patterns and see the trends when they change has been always an important skill for anyone tasked with network defense. The number of malware analysis blogs and papers is overwhelming and it is difficult to keep track of malware features if you don’t have access to a well designed and constantly updated malware database. This started as “personal notes” spreadsheet with GET and POST requests for different malware families with information from open sources. We decided others might find it useful too.
VIEW OR DOWNLOAD “MALWARE TRAFFIC PATTERNS” SPREADSHEET
This is truly an exceptional and valuable community tool for researchers. On the same for those interested in these stuffs i.e. for whitehat researchers, here are some useful sites :
Operational cryptology and virology lab
Modern malware investigations and reviews
Malware don’t need Coffee
All the bloggers take the researching quite seriously, are frequently updated and provide and in-dept analysis. More blogs are listed in above blog.
Steve Flammia, on the blog Quantum Pontiff, posted this remarkable and rare 1-hour talks by Paul Dirac in New Zealand :
There are four of his talks currently uploaded online. The first one (the above) is on quantum mechanics; the second one is on quantum electrodynamics; the third is on the Magnetic monopoles; and the fourth one is on large number hypothesis.
Surprisingly or perhaps not, there still is lots of interesting stuff in them especially to hear the finer points from the person who himself was part of the historical events of Physics.
Credits to Richard Smythe for digitizing them.