What Is Side Channel Attack ?

In modern times, as data becomes more secure through encryption, there are certain attacks that you might not be aware of. One specific type of attack is called a side channel attack.

Side Channel Attack

Secondary channel attacks rely on measuring trends and frequencies in your computer to establish patterns that can extract private information from your machine.

Side channel or SCA attacks, monitor your power consumption and electromagnetic emissions during crypto operations. Due to the low cost and simplicity of these attacks, several side channel techniques can be used.

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Here is a list of the different techniques:

Cache attack

Cache attack Monitor your cache access on a shared physical system. Commonly found in a virtualized environment or some type of cloud service.

Timed attack

Synchronization attack monitor computation time and construction models.

Power monitoring attack

Power Monitoring Attack Monitor the power consumption of the hardware during the compute.

Electromagnetic attack

Electromagnetic attack Based on leakage of electromagnetic radiation, which can directly provide clear text and other information.

Such measurements can be used to derive cryptographic keys using techniques equivalent to those of power analysis or can be used in non-cryptographic attacks.

Acoustic cryptanalysis

Acoustic cryptanalysis Exploits the sound produced during a calculation much like a power analysis.

Differential fault analysis

The secrets of differential defect analysis are discovered by introducing defects into a calculation.

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Data persistence

Data retention Sensitive data is read after it has allegedly been deleted.

Software fault attacks

Software-Based Default Attacks Currently a rare class of secondary channels, row hammer is an example where out-of-range memory can be corrupted by accessing adjacent memory too often, causing loss of state retention.


Optical secrets and sensitive data can be read by visual recording using a high-resolution camera or other devices with such capabilities.

How To Prevent Side Channel Attack ?

Different ways to help prevent these attacks have been introduced but have not been widely implemented. Here are some ways to try to prevent these attacks:

  1. Eliminate the disclosure of private information or ensure that this information is not linked to your private data.
  2. Power line conditioning and filtering to deter power monitoring attacks as well as to emit a channel with noise.
  3. Blinding technique which serves to modify the entry of the algorithm into an unpredictable state making all or part of the information leakage useful.
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Once your keys are established, hackers could gain access to your data and increase your chances of corruption or deletion. Side channel and other types of cyber attacks are one of the main reasons why you should always have redundant backups running using a service like Jungle Disk and some other form of backup such as an external hard drive or network attached storage device.

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