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Systematic Literature Review of EM-SCA Attacks on Encryption
  • Muhammad Rusyaidi Zunaidi,
  • Asanka Sayakkara,
  • Mark Scanlon
Muhammad Rusyaidi Zunaidi
University College Dublin
Asanka Sayakkara
University of Colombo
Mark Scanlon
University College Dublin

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Cryptography has become an essential tool in information security, preserving data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. However, despite rigorous analysis, cryptographic algorithms may still be susceptible to attack when used on real-world devices. Side-channel attacks (SCAs) are physical attacks that target cryptographic equipment through quantifiable phenomena such as power consumption, operational times, and EM radiation. These attacks are considered to be a significant threat to cryptography since they compromise the integrity of the algorithm by obtaining the internal cryptographic key of a device by seeing its physical implementation. The literature on SCAs has focused on real-world devices, yet with the growing popularity of sophisticated devices like smartphones, fresh approaches to SCAs are necessary. One such approach is electromagnetic side-channel analysis (EM-SCA), which gathers information by listening to electromagnetic (EM) radiation. EM-SCA has been demonstrated to recover sensitive data like encryption keys and has the potential to identify malicious software, retrieve data, and identify program activity. This study aims to evaluate how well EM-SCA compromises encryption under various application scenarios, as well as examine the role of EM-SCA in digital forensics and law enforcement. Regarding this, addressing the susceptibility of encryption algorithms to EM-SCA approaches can provide digital forensic investigators with the tools they desire to overcome the challenges posed by strong encryption, allowing them to continue playing a crucial role in law enforcement and the justice system. Furthermore, this paper seeks to define the current state of EM-SCA in terms of attacking encryption, the encryption algorithms and encrypted devices that are most vulnerable and resistant to EM-SCA, and the most promising EM-SCA on encryption approaches. This study will provide a comprehensive analysis of EM-SCA in the context of law enforcement and digital forensics and point towards potential directions for further research.

15 Feb 2024Submitted to TechRxiv
19 Feb 2024Published in TechRxiv