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Encryption Cracked by Listening to a Computer’s CPU

If this were a movie, we’d be laughing at the improbability of the premise — that encryption can be cracked by listening to the high-pitched sounds produced by a computer’s CPU as it decrypts data. But it’s real, and although it can be done at a distance of 4 meters with a parabolic microphone, the researchers (Daniel Genkin, Eran Tromer, and Adi Shamir, who is the S of the RSA cryptosystem) also showed that it could be done with a smartphone sitting next to a laptop. Upping the ante, they suggest that a microphone hidden inside a colocated server could eavesdrop on numerous nearby servers. In short, if security is paramount, both heavy-duty encryption and physical protection are necessary.

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