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Private Image Reconstruction from System Side Channels Using Generative Models

Yuanyuan Yuan · Shuai Wang · Junping Zhang


Keywords: [ side channel analysis ]


System side channels denote effects imposed on the underlying system and hardware when running a program, such as its accessed CPU cache lines. Side channel analysis (SCA) allows attackers to infer program secrets based on observed side channel signals. Given the ever-growing adoption of machine learning as a service (MLaaS), image analysis software on cloud platforms has been exploited by reconstructing private user images from system side channels. Nevertheless, to date, SCA is still highly challenging, requiring technical knowledge of victim software's internal operations. For existing SCA attacks, comprehending such internal operations requires heavyweight program analysis or manual efforts.

This research proposes an attack framework to reconstruct private user images processed by media software via system side channels. The framework forms an effective workflow by incorporating convolutional networks, variational autoencoders, and generative adversarial networks. Our evaluation of two popular side channels shows that the reconstructed images consistently match user inputs, making privacy leakage attacks more practical. We also show surprising results that even one-bit data read/write pattern side channels, which are deemed minimally informative, can be used to reconstruct quality images using our framework.

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