Improper Protection of Physical Side Channels
The device does not contain sufficient protection mechanisms to prevent physical side channels from exposing sensitive information due to patterns in physically observable phenomena such as variations in power consumption, electromagnetic emissions (EME), or acoustic emissions.
An adversary could monitor and measure physical phenomena to detect patterns and make inferences, even if it is not possible to extract the information in the digital domain.
Physical side channels have been well-studied for decades in the context of breaking implementations of cryptographic algorithms or other attacks against security features. These side channels may be easily observed by an adversary with physical access to the device, or using a tool that is in close proximity. If the adversary can monitor hardware operation and correlate its data processing with power, EME, and acoustic measurements, the adversary might be able to recover of secret keys and data.
The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.
Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.
Consider a device that checks a passcode to unlock the screen.
PIN numbers used to unlock a cell phone should not exhibit any characteristics about themselves. This creates a side channel. An attacker could monitor the pulses using an oscilloscope or other method. Once the first character is correctly guessed (based on the oscilloscope readings), they can then move to the next character, which is much more efficient than the brute force method of guessing every possible sequence of characters.
Consider the device vulnerability CVE-2021-3011, which affects certain microcontrollers [REF-1221]. The Google Titan Security Key is used for two-factor authentication using cryptographic algorithms. The device uses an internal secret key for this purpose and exchanges information based on this key for the authentication. If this internal secret key and the encryption algorithm were known to an adversary, the key function could be duplicated, allowing the adversary to masquerade as the legitimate user.
Weaknesses in this category can arise in multiple areas of hardware design or can apply to a wide cross-section of components.
This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.
CWE entries in this view are listed in the 2021 CWE Most Important Hardware Weaknesses List, as determined by the Hardware CWE Special Interest Group (HW CWE SIG).
CWE identifiers in this view are weaknesses that do not have associated Software Fault Patterns (SFPs), as covered by the CWE-888 view. As such, they represent gaps in...