How Safe is Your Computer, Even with Security Precautions?

How safe are you keeping your computer? Do you follow the religiously scheduled scans and Windows updates that all software and computer companies advise you to do? If you do, then you may think that you are in the clear, but recent findings have shown that no matter what you do, someone can still get into your computer system.

Data “leakage” is one attack on computer systems that has caught the eye of the technological world. With data leakage, whether or not your data is encrypted, if data is in actual use then accessibility to it opens up to outsiders. For instance, in terms of cached data, if you have your file opened up on your computer (decrypted) and are viewing or using it, and at the same time there are other programs that are open and working in the background, any of these programs could steal the information that you have on your opened cached data file.

This kind of attack has its variation called “cache timing” wherein if your computer is undergoing a decrypting process, the attack will determine what parts of your computer memory and resources are utilized during the process. By knowing this kind of information, an attacker can reconstruct the key in a matter of seconds by processing the patterns that it discerns when the memory is accessed. Cache timing has been used to break AES encryption keys which are usually very stable and reliable.

This is why more research is going into determining whether or not these kinds of attacks can be done in-the-cloud as well. The question is whether your computer can be attacked if it is part of a shared network or connected to the internet. If you are connected to a server, is it possible for an attacker to hack into a server and do cache timing there? It may be time for users to be careful when using shared resources and running their applications.

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