Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Keyboards can be snooped remotely

Electromagnetic signals allow keystroke logging.

Article comments

Computer keystrokes can be snooped from afar by detecting the slight electromagnetic radiation emitted when a key is pressed, according to new research.

Other security experts have theorised keyboards were vulnerable to such detection, wrote Sylvain Pasini and Martin Vuagnoux, both doctorate students with the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

But Vuagnoux and Pasini believe theirs is the first set of experiments showing such spying is feasible. They blamed cost pressures on keyboard manufacturers for not making keyboards more snoop proof.

Keyboards "are not safe to transmit sensitive information," they wrote in an entry on the school's website. "No doubt that our attacks can be significantly improved since we used relatively inexpensive equipment."

The researchers tested 11 different wired keyboard models produced between 2001 and 2008, including some with USB connectors and keyboards embedded in laptops. All were vulnerable to one of four surveillance methods.

Two videos posted show two different experiments, both of which accurately picked up the typed text.

The first video shows a white Logitech keyboard with a PS/2 connector that was attached to a laptop for power. It was monitored with a simple 1-metre wire cable about a metre away. After typing "trust no one" on the keyboard, the same phrase is returned on the researchers' monitoring equipment.

In a second video, a larger antenna picked up keystrokes through an office wall. All told, various experiments shows they could monitor keystrokes from as far as 20 metres away.

Vuagnoux and Pasini have written a paper that's currently in peer review detailing the technique. It will be released soon at an upcoming conference, they wrote.

Efforts to reach Vuagnoux and Pasini were unsuccessful.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments

The Dude said: NERDS ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD AND I BLAME IT ON WORLD OF WARCRAFT

RE said: Would be interesting to know how related their techniquemethods amp equipment are to Soviet monitoring of IBM selectric typewriter emanations in 1960s

RE said: Would be interesting to know how related their techniquemethods amp equipment are to Soviet monitoring of IBM selectric typewriter emanations in 1960s



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *