Side-Channel Attack: Thermal Imaging attacks

Threat actors can leverage thermal imaging attacks (e.g., infrared images) to measure heat that is emitted as a means to exfiltrate information from spacecraft processors. Thermal attacks rely on temperature profiling using sensors to extract critical information from the chip(s). The availability of highly sensitive thermal sensors, infrared cameras, and techniques to calculate power consumption from temperature distribution [7] has enhanced the effectiveness of these attacks. As a result, side-channel attacks can be performed by using temperature data without measuring power pins of the chip.

ID: EXF-0002.05
Sub-technique of:  EXF-0002
Related Aerospace Threat IDs: 
Created: 2022/10/19
Last Modified: 2022/10/28


ID Name Description NIST Rev5
CM0064 Dual Layer Protection Use a dual layered case with the inner layer a highly conducting surface and the outer layer made of a non-conducting material. When heat is generated from internal computing components, the inner, highly conducting surface will quickly dissipate the heat around. The outer layer prevents accesses to the temporary hot spots formed on the inner layer. PE-19 PE-19(1)


  • R. Cochran, A. N. Nowroz, and S. Reda, “Post-silicon power characterization using thermal infrared emissions,” in Proceedings of the 16th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design, pp. 331–336, ACM, 2010