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TRUSTWORTHY SYSTEMS SUMMER SCHOOL

Yuval Yarom, University of Adelaide

USB Snooping Made Easy: Crosstalk Leakage Attacks on USB Hubs

Abstract

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the most prominent interface for connecting peripheral devices to computers. USB-connected input devices, such as keyboards, card-swipers and fingerprint readers, often send sensitive information to the computer. As such information is only sent along the communication path from the device to the computer, it was hitherto thought to be protected from potentially compromised devices outside this path.

In this work we show that over 90\% of tested USB hubs, both external and internal (i.e., physically soldered on the computer's motherboard), suffer from a crosstalk leakage effect that allows malicious peripheral devices located off the communication path to capture and observe sensitive USB traffic. We also show that on some USB hubs the crosstalk leakage can be also observed on the USB power lines, thus defeating a common USB isolation countermeasure of using a charge-only USB cable which physically disconnects the USB data lines.

Bio

Yuval Yarom is a Research Associate in the School of Computer Science at the University of Adelaide. His main research interests are computer security and cryptography, with a current focus on side-channel attacks and defenses. He obtained his M.Sc. from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in 1993 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Adelaide in 2014. Prior to resuming his academic interests, he has spent several years in the industry, doing computer security research at Memco Software and co-founding Girafa.com.

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