Hackers devise method to take over wireless keyboards/mouses


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Your modern wireless computer is not safe: Hackers have devised an attack that is capable of not only recording the keystrokes and mouse actions of wireless devices, it can also take over the computer, and it can do it from hundreds of feet away.

On Tuesday Bastille’s research team revealed a new set of wireless keyboard attacks they’re calling Keysniffer. The technique, which they’re planning to detail at the Defcon hacker conference in two weeks, allows any hacker with a $12 radio device to intercept the connection between any of eight wireless keyboards and a computer from 250 feet away. What’s more, it gives the hacker the ability to both type keystrokes on the victim machine and silently record the target’s typing.

The keyboards’ vulnerability, according to Bastille’s chief research officer Ivan O’Sullivan, comes from the fact that they all transmit keystrokes entirely without encryption. The manufacturers’ only plan against attackers spoofing or eavesdropping on their devices’ communications is to depend on the obscurity of the radio protocols used. “We were stunned,” says O’Sullivan. “We had no expectation that in 2016 these companies would be selling keyboards with no encryption.”

In other words, if you use a wireless keyboard or mouse, your system is very vulnerable and exposed.

I find this story amusing in a sense, since my friends constantly make fun of me for not upgrading to these devises. I however see no reason to spend money on a new keyboard when the old wired one I have works fine. Now I have good reason, when I do upgrade, to avoid the wireless route.

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2 comments

  • wodun

    Having to replace batteries is another good reason. Also, under a heavy CPU load, your wireless performance might suffer.

  • Nick

    This has been known in the intelligence community for at least 10-15 years (I forget exactly when I received my computer security briefing when I was at one of the National Labs – but it was at least in that range). Anyone with the right equipment could always sniff your keyboard, mouse, and even monitor. That’s why there are things called “scif’s” where those of us who had the privilege of working on classified material could protect it. Unlike the evil that is Shrillary, who didn’t give a hoot.

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