Nearly half a century ago, military organizations introduced “Tempest” emission-security test standards to control information leakage from unintentional electromagnetic emanations of digital electronics. The nature of these emissions has changed with evolving technology; electromechanic devices have vanished and signal frequencies increased several orders of magnitude. Recently published eavesdropping attacks on modern flat-panel displays and cryptographic coprocessors demonstrate that the risk remains acute for applications with high protection requirements. The ultra-wideband signal processing technology needed for practical attacks finds already its way into consumer electronics. Current civilian RFI limits are entirely unsuited for emission security purposes. Only an openly available set of test standards based on published criteria will help civilian vendors and users to estimate and manage emission-security risks appropriately. This paper outlines a proposal and rationale for civilian electromagnetic emission-security limits. While the presented discussion aims specifically at far-field video eavesdropping in the VHF and UHF bands, the most easy to demonstrate risk, much of the presented approach for setting test limits could be adapted equally to address other RF emanation risks.


Eavesdropping emission security Tempest protection standards video displays side channels 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus G. Kuhn
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer LaboratoryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

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