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Side channel attack on a partially encrypted MPEG-G file


New genome sequencing technologies have decreased the cost of generating genomic data, thus increasing storage needs. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) working group MPEG has developed a standard for genomic data compression with encryption features. The approach taken in standard MPEG-G (ISO/IEC 23092) to compress genomic information was to group similar data into streams. Taking this into account, one of the protection options considered was to encrypt each stream separately. In this paper, we show that an attacker can use an unencrypted stream to deduce the encrypted content if streams are encrypted separately. To do so, we present two different attacks, one based on signal processing and the other one based on neural networks. The signal-based attack only works with unrealistic settings, whereas the neural network-based one recovers data with realistic settings (regarding read length and coverage). The presented results made MPEG reconsider the encryption strategy, before final publication of the standard, discarding separate streams encryption approach.

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The work presented in this paper has been partially supported by the Spanish Research Agency/ERDF (EU), through the project Secure Genomic Information Compression (GenCom, TEC2015-67774-C2-1-R, TEC2015-67774-C2-2-R) and by the Generalitat de Catalunya (2017 SGR 1749).

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Correspondence to Silvia Llorente.

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Naro, D., Delgado, J. & Llorente, S. Side channel attack on a partially encrypted MPEG-G file. Multimed Tools Appl 80, 20599–20618 (2021).

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  • Encryption
  • Genomic information
  • Information leakage
  • MPEG-G