Optical Cryptanalysis: Recovering Cryptographic Keys from Power LED Light Fluctuations

Ben Nassi, Ofek Vayner, Etay Iluz, Dudi Nassi, Or Hai Cohen, Jan Jancar, Daniel Genkin, Eran Tromer, Boris Zadov, Yuval Elovici

Cryptology ePrint Archive, 2023

Although power LEDs have been integrated in various devices that perform cryptographic operations for decades, the cryptanalysis risk they pose has not yet been investigated. In this paper, we present optical cryptanalysis, a new form of cryptanalytic side-channel attack, in which secret keys are extracted by using a photodiode to measure the light emitted by a device’s power LED and analyzing subtle fluctuations in the light intensity during cryptographic operations. We analyze the optical leakage of power LEDs of various consumer devices and the factors that affect the optical SNR. We then demonstrate end-to-end optical cryptanalytic attacks against a range of consumer devices (smartphone, smartcard, and Raspberry Pi, along with their USB peripherals) and recover secret keys (RSA, ECDSA, SIKE) from prior and recent versions of popular cryptographic libraries (GnuPG, Libgcrypt, PQCrypto-SIDH) from a …