Wireless Keyboards, a Hackers Bestfriend

For most of us, wireless keyboards and mice give us the freedom to move around whilst roaming the internet, preparing that important presentation or checking emails but, are these wireless devices as safe as we think?

For millions, these wireless, innocent looking radio receivers pose a threat to us from hackers who can intercept the radio signals and silently type malicious commands on your PC as found out by security researchers at Bastille Networks. This means that an attacker can launch an attack from up to 100m away. Therefore, the attacker can take control of the targeted computer without the need to physically be in front of it. It is therefore possible to perform rapidly malicious activities without being detected, putting our PC’s at a greater risk. This huge vulnerability allows hackers to read your key strokes and secretly record exactly what you are typing including all login details and passwords, Credit card details and trade secrets. A scary thought to say the least.

Using a technique dubbed the KeySniffer attack, hackers can remotely snoop on the keystrokes of vulnerable wireless keyboards from eight different manufacturers from up to 250 feet away.  Some of the manufacturers listed include Toshiba, HP, Kensington, Radio Shack, General Electric, Insignia, Anker and EagleTec.

According to researchers, the vulnerability to such hacking affects wireless keyboards that use un-encrypted radio communication protocols to transfer any data sent from the keyboard to the computer. If this connection is weak and therefore less secure, it becomes very simple for a hacker to note every keystroke made by a victim from hundreds of feet away using equipment costing less than $100. This means that hackers can be quid’s in in seconds at the expense of their victims.

So the big question is, what can be done to prevent this dangerously easy hacking technique?

The key thing you need to do is to update or replace any vulnerable devices that you use, preferably to a device that is an AES Encryption keyboard as this type of encryption is difficult to hack as it is cycled with each press of your keys this making it much harder for hackers to intercept your keystrokes e.g. Microsoft Wireless 2000 . I would highly advise, researching brands of keyboard and going for the safest one on the market or, better still, switch to Bluetooth mice and keyboards as they are not susceptible to the Keysniffer attack.

However, with this, there is still a risk that as hacking techniques develop, it will only be a matter of time before these stronger connections can be hacked into just as easily.

Therefore, my best advice to you would be to go back to the old fashioned ways of computing and give up on wireless keyboards and go back to basics. This makes it much harder for hackers as it means in order to track your keystrokes, they would have to use other means to access your device , which will most probably already be secured by your local antivirus. So, the general consensus is if you can go wired, go wired!

If you have any more questions on this topic, feel free to contact us on 01524 581 690, or email us at [email protected]. We are an IT support company.

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