Lecture on RSA Acoustic Cryptanalysis by Genkin, Shamir and Tomer

Two weeks ago various reports on tech web sites appeared regarding a security attack on RSA, a public key cryptography algorithm used in securing web browsing, email and banking applications. The attack involved someone listening to the sounds of a computer while decrypting using a private (secret) key, and then analysing the sounds to determine that key. The reports were based on research published by Daniel Genkin, Adi Shamir and Eran Tromer on 18 December. This was "good" timing, as I had covered public key crypto in my IT Security course, and was currently explaining the details of RSA in my other course Security and Cryptography. After receiving several questions about the attack by students, I decided to read the paper myself and give a presentation on the attack. The aim of my presentation was to explain the attack in 1 hour at a level of detail my students could follow. Unfortunately the aim wasn't quite met: probably 2 hours or more was needed to get a full understanding of the attack. Even if those attending didn't understand everything, I think they would be impressed with the methods used in the attack and may be motivated to explore cryptography further.

A screencast of my lecture from my YouTube channel is below. The slides are also available (as PDF or OpenDocument). The best source however is the original paper (and accompanying FAQ). It is surprisingly easy to follow, and most people with some computing background will at least understand the overview of the attack given in the introduction.