Skip to comments.Keyboard sniffers to steal data
Posted on 10/27/2008 10:30:24 AM PDT by BGHater
Computer criminals could soon be eavesdropping on what you type by analysing the electromagnetic signals produced by every key press.
By analysing the signals produced by keystrokes, Swiss researchers have reproduced what a target typed.
The security researchers have developed four attacks that work on a wide variety of computer keyboards.
The results led the researchers to declare keyboards were "not safe to transmit sensitive information".
The attacks were dreamed up by doctoral students Martin Vuagnoux and Sylvain Pasini from the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).
The EPFL students tested 11 different keyboard models that connected to a computer via either a USB or a PS/2 socket. The attacks they developed also worked with keyboards embedded in laptops.
Every keyboard tested was vulnerable to at least one of the four attacks the researchers used. One attack was shown to work over a distance of 20 metres.
In their work the researchers used a radio antenna to "fully or partially recover keystrokes" by spotting the electromagnetic radiation emitted when keys were pressed.
In a web posting they added: "no doubt that our attacks can be significantly improved, since we used relatively unexpensive equipments [sic]."
In videos showing their early work the researchers are seen connecting keyboards to a laptop running on battery power. They avoided using a desktop computer or an LCD display to minimise the chance of picking up signals from other sources.
Details of the attacks are scant but the work is expected to be reported in a peer-reviewed journal soon.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.bbc.co.uk ...
These are some pretty stupid doctoral students.
This was well known over a dozen years ago, when I first read about it.
“This was well known over a dozen years ago, when I first read about it.”
It was known in the late 80’s. My company was providing TEMPEST safe computers and equipment to DOD and other entities with sensitive communications requirements during that time frame.
The article is pretty lacking on details but if its based on QWERTY key layout, a simple switch of the keyboard (e.g to Dvorak) or using some key-remapping software you can easily thwart this.
Ok, what did they use and how much did it cost? If it's under 10K, I'll eat my keyboard.
Old news. Google “tempest attack”
Next these geniuses will “discover” that, with just a butt-set and alligator clips, these scary-smart doctoral students can actually listen in on telephone conversations!
Then...the Nobel will be their's (in their minds) when they theorize about being able to tell what radio station you are listening to in your car by detecting the local oscillator frequency as you drive by.
Re: old tech.
That was my thought as soon as saw the headline. I saw it demonstrated on a Commodore 64 many years ago.
Mr. Keyboard, meet Mr. van Eck.