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And why is the original way of not completing the for cycle for some keys wrong? Is the difference between checking the whole array and checking only lets say first byte measurable? Especially when considering that this would probably be done over a network?



The current state of the art in remote measurement (which is in its infancy; the first papers to apply basic signal processing on measurement over IP networks are just coming out) suggest that the timeable thresholds are in the tens of microseconds over a WAN.

But that doesn't matter, because over switched "local" networks (read: from one end of a data center to another), the thresholds are in nanoseconds; everything is timeable. Attackers will spend the $30 to get a machine in the same hosting center as you as soon as the other attacks get less trivial.


Yes, it is measurable. Remote timing attacks are scarily practical -- even a single cycle difference can be a problem, because an attacker can many many attempts and compute the average time in order to kill the noise.


Timing attacks like this have been successfully used against a few gaming consoles.


In particular, a memcmp()-style timing attack was successful against the Xbox360 CPU. This is a multi-Ghz processor.




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