June 19, 2021

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Wireless Charging Power Side-Channel Attacks. (arXiv:2105.12266v2 [cs.CR] UPDATED)

This paper shows that today’s wireless charging interface is vulnerable to
power side-channel attacks; a smartphone charging wirelessly leaks private
information about its activity to the wireless charger (charging transmitter).
We present a website fingerprinting attack through the wireless charging
side-channel for both iOS and Android devices. The attack monitors the current
drawn by the wireless charging transmitter while 20 webpages from the Alexa top
sites list are loaded on a charging smartphone. We implement a classifier that
correctly identifies unlabeled current traces with an accuracy of 87% on
average for an iPhone 11 and 95% on average for a Google Pixel 4. This
represents a considerable security threat because wireless charging does not
require any user permission if the phone is within the range of a charging
transmitter. To the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first to
introduce and demonstrate a power side-channel attack through wireless
charging. Additionally, this study compares the wireless charging side-channel
with the wired USB charging power side-channel, showing that they are
comparable. We find that the performance of the attack deteriorates as the
contents of websites change over time. Furthermore, we discover that the amount
of information leakage through both wireless and wired charging interfaces
heavily depends on the battery level; minimal information is leaked at low
battery levels.