March 27th, 2003, 09:43 PM
Security Expert Paul Kocher Answers, In Detail
A pretty interesting take, I must say:
Entire Interview here:
1) Serious Threats?
While studying cryptanalysis, I've been learning about a number of interesting attacks such as timing attacks and differential power attacks (your specialty, if I recall). While these attacks certainly seem to help cryptanalysis of various ciphers, how practical are they in terms of real security? That is to say, what are the chances that these methods are actively being used by attackers?
It depends on the target. If the system you are trying to protect isn't worth an attacker's effort, or if there are easier ways to break in, the chances are small. On the other hand, if you are protecting extremely desirable data (money, data that will affect stock prices, Star Trek episodes, government secrets, etc.) you have to assume that smart people are going to attack your security. We spend a lot of time helping credit card companies and other smart card users build testing programs -- their products need to operate in high-risk environments where DPA, timing analysis, and other sophisticated attacks are a real problem.