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Old 07-11-2015, 11:12 AM   #1
LXer
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LXer: No One Is Safe: $300 Gadget Steals Encryption Keys out of the Air, and It's Nearly Unstoppable


Published at LXer:

Just when you thought you were safe, a new hacking toy comes along and rocks your world. Imagine a tool exists that lets hackers pluck encryption keys from your laptop right out of the air. You can't stop it by connecting to protected Wi-Fi networks or even disabling Wi-Fi completely. Turning off Bluetooth also won't help you protect yourself.

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Old 07-11-2015, 11:21 AM   #2
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They had me up to
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
The attack sends a few carefully-crafted ciphertexts, and when these are decrypted by the target computer, they trigger the occurrence of specially-structured values inside the decryption software.
So, they can't "pull them out of the air" without first sending you an email or having you open something from a web page first. OK, it's still a frightening proof-of-concept but one that, at least according to the article, does not affect the vast majority of people just going about their business. One would have to be targeted and they would have to have a means of getting you to open the "carefully-crafted ciphertexts". In fact, surely this is just a known-plaintext attack but just made a little more "sneaky" by reading the memory contents via radio rather than a trojan?
 
Old 07-11-2015, 11:46 AM   #3
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Yeah, the article is kind of sensational.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the article
Instead it reads radio waves emitted by your computerís processor, and thereís really nothing you can do to stop it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by the researchers
We have disclosed our attack to GnuPG developers under CVE-2014-3591, suggested suitable countermeasures, and worked with the developers to test them. GnuPG 1.4.19 and Libgcrypt 1.6.3 (which underlies GnuPG 2.x), containing these countermeasures and resistant to the key-extraction attack described here, were released concurrently with the first public posting of these results.
So clearly updating GnuGP is something you can do to stop this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 273
So, they can't "pull them out of the air" without first sending you an email or having you open something from a web page first. OK, it's still a frightening proof-of-concept but one that, at least according to the article, does not affect the vast majority of people just going about their business.
Well the researchers also say
Quote:
Q10: Is there a realistic way to perform a chosen-ciphertext attack on GnuPG?

GnuPG is often invoked to decrypt externally-controlled inputs, fed into it by numerous frontends, via emails, files, chat and web pages. The list of GnuPG frontends contains dozens of such applications, each of them can be potentially used in order to make the target decrypt the chosen ciphertexts required by our attack. As a concrete example, Enigmail (a popular plugin to the Thunderbird e-mail client) automatically decrypts incoming e-mail (for notification purposes) using GnuPG. An attacker can e-mail suitably-crafted messages to the victims (using the OpenPGP and PGP/MIME protocols), wait until they reach the target computer, and observe the target's EM emanations during their decryption (as shown above), thereby closing the attack loop. We have empirically verified that such an injection method does not have any noticeable effect on the leakage signal produced by the target laptop. GnuPG's Outlook plugin, GpgOL also did not seem to alter the target's leakage signal.
I'd say the thing that really limits this attack is the requirement for physical proximity, about 50cm with the proof of concept, maybe extendable to some amount of meters, but not much more.
 
Old 07-11-2015, 12:24 PM   #4
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But how do they know what my email address is if I'm sitting in a cafe using my laptop? As I mentioned this is more a targeted attack rather than something which can be automated and left to collect keys as were my first thoughts on reading the article. I mean, they say that the attack can't be defended against by turning off WiFi and Bluetooth but that's only true if they were able to send you email before you turn it off which your machine then decrypts afterwards which is not quite the same thing.
As you say, kind of sensational.
 
Old 07-11-2015, 01:07 PM   #5
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More clickbait bo**ocks from our friendly local news bot...
 
  


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