Side-Channel Signal Monitoring Could Detect Malicious Software on IoT Devices

Monitoring of side-channel output from electronic devices could provide a means for detecting malware infection of Internet-of-Things devices. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

Monitoring of side-channel output from electronic devices could provide a means for detecting malware infection of Internet-of-Things devices. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

October 24, 2016 | Source: Georgia Tech News Center, News.GaTech.edu

A $9.4 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) could lead to development of a new technique for wirelessly monitoring Internet of Things (IoT) devices for malicious software – without affecting the operation of the ubiquitous but low-power equipment.

The technique will rely on receiving and analyzing side-channel signals, electromagnetic emissions that are produced unintentionally by the electronic devices as they execute programs. These signals are produced by semiconductors, capacitors, power supplies and other components, and can currently be measured up to a half-meter away from operating IoT devices.

By comparing these unintended side-channel emissions to a database of what the devices should be doing when they are operating normally, researchers can tell if malicious software has been installed.