Hacking your keyboard one sound at a time

Swiss researchers have confirmed that keyboards aren’t safe for transmitting sensitive information.

Swiss researchers have been able to reproduce the keys pressed on a keyboard by analysing the electromagnetic signals produced every time you type.

Four methods of attack were developed by the researchers that were confirmed to work on a range of computer keyboards.

The inspiration for the attack came from two students at the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). They tested 11 keyboard models, plugged into the USB port or the older PS/2 connection, as well as testing keyboards in laptops.

Every keyboard tested was vunerable to at least one method of attack. One particular method even worked 20 meters away, even through walls.

The students used a radio antenna to “fully or partially recover keystrokes” by spotting the electromagnetic radiation created when typing. The success of the attacks have led to the researchers declaring that keyboards are “not safe to transmit sensitive information”.

A video of the students testing the method can be seen below.


Compromising Electromagnetic Emanations of Keyboards Experiment 1/2 from Martin Vuagnoux on Vimeo

Source: BBC News



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