Get your hands off my laptop: Physical side-channel key-extraction attacks on pcs

Daniel Genkin*, Itamar Pipman, Eran Tromer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


We demonstrate physical side-channel attacks on a popular software implementation of RSA and ElGamal, running on laptop computers. Our attacks use novel side channels, based on the observation that the “ground” electric potential, in many computers, fluctuates in a computation-dependent way. An attacker can measure this signal by touching exposed metal on the computer’s chassis with a plain wire, or even with a bare hand. The signal can also be measured at the remote end of Ethernet, VGA or USB cables. Through suitable cryptanalysis and signal processing, we have extracted 4096-bit RSA keys and 3072-bit ElGamal keys from laptops, via each of these channels, as well as via power analysis and electromagnetic probing. Despite the GHz-scale clock rate of the laptops and numerous noise sources, the full attacks require a few seconds of measurements using Medium Frequency signals (around 2 MHz), or one hour using Low Frequency signals (up to 40 kHz).


FundersFunder number
Check Point Institute for Information Security
European Union’s Tenth Framework Programme259426 ERC-CaC, FP10/2010-2016
Framework of ”Science for Peace
Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
Israeli Centers for Research Excellence4/11
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel


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