Three University of Michigan computer scientists say they have found a way to exploit a weakness in RSA security technology used to protect everything from media players to smartphones and e-commerce servers. RSA authentication is susceptible, they say, to changes in the voltage supply to a private key holder. While guessing the 1,000-plus digits of binary code in a private key would take unfathomable hours, the researchers say that by varying electric current to a secured computer using an inexpensive purpose-built device they were able to stress out the computer and figure out the 1,024-bit private key in about 100 hours – all without leaving a trace. The researchers in their paper outline how they made the attack (PDF) on a SPARC system running Linux.
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