Side-Channel Attacks on Frog Calls

The male túngara frog Physalaemus pustulosus uses calls to attract females. But croaking also causes ripples in the water, which are eavesdropped on -- both by rival male frogs and frog-eating bats.

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM • 11 Comments

Comments

AnuraJanuary 30, 2014 12:28 PM

Crap. I was making cryptographic functions* with a frog related naming convention (Bufo - 512-bit Block Cipher, Polliwog - password based KDF, Rana - 256-bit hash intended for use with Polliwog). Guess I'm going to have to toss all the designs out now.

*functions made primarily for fun, I don't have the knowledge to do the cryptanalysis on the hash or cipher, although I'm considering trying to get the KDF peer-reviewed and published.

boogersJanuary 30, 2014 12:37 PM

Can somone email the NSA on this right away, so they can ignore it as a matter of policy?m Then I can make some fake frogs that actually form an ad hoc mesh network and they won't even notice.

Miguel FarahJanuary 30, 2014 1:58 PM

So, an enterprising túngara frog should be able to make a little fortune selling the other ones a bunch of ripple-canceling devices, right?


But seriously, this problem creates a clear natural selection pressure to develop better croaking (in this case, "better" == "less ripples").

I wonder how the croaking was a few millennia ago. Somehow, I suspect it was louder...

AnuraJanuary 30, 2014 2:50 PM

@Miguel Farah

You have to remember that they are croaking in the first place to attract mates. So if they are loud, they attract bats and get eaten, preventing them from breeding. If they are quiet, they don't attract mates, preventing them from breeding. They need to somehow evolve a way to encode a message containing their location, so only the females of the species can decode it. Unfortunately, evolution tends to not favor complex activities that can't be implemented gradually.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 30, 2014 5:05 PM

Ahh I'm reminded of Peacocks and their tails...

For those that have not come across it there is an evolutionary argument as to why a peacocks tail is the size it is. Basicaly to atract a mate the biger the better, however as the tail gets bigger it's more easily killed by preditors. However a friend pointed out that despite some peacocks being in an environment where there have been no preditors for very many generations the tails don't appear to have got any bigger... So there maybe something wrong with the argument :-)

Andrew BurdayJanuary 30, 2014 5:37 PM

"Side channel attacks on frog calls." Just... don't ever stop doing this shit. Just don't. In a world where the NSA owns 87% of everyone's identity and Amazon has a call on everything that's left, we need "side channel attacks on frog calls". We need them to stay sane.

Sorry, I'll sit up straight and be quiet now.

FigureitoutJanuary 30, 2014 10:15 PM

Funny story (kind of)
After fishing in a small pond, I accidentally caught a pretty large frog by the eyelids (I never intended to do that; if you think about it, fishing can be a pretty evil activity)...Well it presented itself and I kind of found its defense mechanism funny, and wanted to see if it would go after the fake worm w/ the hook (kind of evil if you look at it that way). Well it did...When my friend and I were trying to remove the damn hook from just below its eye as it was literally making a crying noise, it keep jumping and making it worse. Finally we got it out; then later that night, I kid you not, there was this frog (which has popped up on my window and garage before) on my basement window just eavesdropping. After that night, it retreated back to wherever and I haven't seen it since.

Makes you wonder sometimes haha; I mean maybe there is an underground froggy network. Mechanical drone frogs would be entirely possible, I can definitely see at least the legs. They're sticky and can just sit on a window and maybe you'll be more fascinated than skeptical when one pops up on your window or garage; especially if nature gets tamed way down in the suburbs...

DingleJanuary 31, 2014 6:17 AM

Now to side hack the side hacking by making ripples in the water to catch frog eating bats for assembling an army of vibration homing bats. Centrifuges Beware!

vas pupFebruary 4, 2014 10:11 AM

"it demonstrates the same unintentional signal can be detected through different sensory systems by intended and nonintended receivers".
Remind attempts of lie detection by analyzing changes in vocalizations in the non-hearing part of spectrum.

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