Hacking A KVM: Teach A Keyboard Switch To Spy

When it comes to large systems, there are a lot more computers than there are people maintaining them. That’s not a big deal since you can simply use a KVM to connect one Keyboard/Video/Mouse terminal up to all of them, switching between each box simply and seamlessly. The side effect is that now the KVM has just as much access to all of those systems as the human who caresses the keyboard. [Yaniv Balmas] and [Lior Oppenheim] spent some time reverse engineering the firmware for one of these devices and demonstrated how shady firmware can pwn these systems, even when some of the systems themselves are air-gapped from the Internet. This was their first DEF CON talk and they did a great job of explaining what it took to hack these devices.

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Sniffing RF Hardware Communication Packets

[Travis Goodspeed] put together a proof of concept hack that sniffs wireless keyboard data packets. He’s using the Next HOPE badge that he designed as the hardware platform for these tests. It has an nRF24L01+ radio on-board which can easily communicate with 2.4 GHz devices.

The real trick comes in getting that radio to listen for all traffic, then to narrow that traffic down to just the device from which you want data. He covers the protocol that is used, and his method of getting around MAC address verification on the hardware. In the end he can listen to all keyboard data without the target’s knowledge, and believes that it is possible to inject data using just the hardware on the badge.

Black Hat 2009: Powerline And Optical Keysniffing


The 2009 edition of the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas has just begun. The first interesting talk we saw was [Andrea Barisani] and [Daniele Bianco]’s Sniff Keystrokes With Lasers/Voltmeters. They presented two methods for Tempest style eavesdropping of keyboards.

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Keykeriki: Wireless Keyboard Sniffer

Remote-Exploit.org is releasing Keykeriki, a wireless keyboard sniffer. The project is both open source hardware and software. you can download the files on their site. Right now you can’t get a pre made board, but they plan on releasing one soon. The system can be upgraded with “backpacks” or add on modules. One of these is going to be an LCD that displays the keystrokes of the keyboard you are sniffing. Another is supposed to serve as an interface to your iPhone.  Right now it has the ability to decode Microsoft wireless keyboards, but the Logitech pieces should be added soon.

Sniffing Keystrokes Via Laser, Power Lines


Researchers from Inverse Path showed a couple interesting techniques for sniffing keystrokes at CanSecWest. For their first experiments they used a laser pointed at the shiny back of a laptop. The keystrokes would cause the laptop to vibrate which they could detect just like they would with any laser listening device. They’ve done it successfully from anywhere between 50 to 100 feet away. They used techniques similar to those in speech recognition to determine what sentences were being typed.

In a different attack, they sniffed characters from a PS/2 keyboard by monitoring the ground line in an outlet 50 feet away. They haven’t yet been able to collect more than just single strokes, but expect to get full words and sentences soon. This leakage via power line is discussed in the 1972 Tempest document we posted about earlier. The team said it wasn’t possible with USB or laptop keyboards.

[Thanks Jeramy]

Wireless Keyboards Easily Cracked

We first covered breaking the commodity 27MHz radios used in wireless keyboards, mice, and presenters when [Luis Miras] gave a talk at Black Hat. Since then, the people at Dreamlab have managed to crack the encryption on Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 and 2000 products (and possibly more). Analyzing the protocol they found out that meta keys like shift and ALT are transmitted in cleartext. The “encryption” used on each regular keystroke involves XORing the key against a random one byte value determined during the initial sync with the receiver. So, if you sniff the handshake, you can decrypt the keystrokes. You really don’t have to though; there are only 256 possible encryption keys. Using a dictionary file you can check all possible keys and determine the correct one after only receiving 20-50 keystrokes. Their demo video shows them sniffing keystrokes from three different keyboards at the same time. Someone could potentially build a wireless keylogger that picks up every keystrokes from every keyboard in an office. You can read more about the attack in the whitepaper(pdf).

[via Midnight Research Labs]

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Hacking The Aether: How Data Crosses The Air-Gap

It is incredibly interesting how many parts of a computer system are capable of leaking data in ways that is hard to imagine. Part of securing highly sensitive locations involves securing the computers and networks used in those facilities in order to prevent this. These IT security policies and practices have been evolving and tightening through the years, as malicious actors increasingly target vital infrastructure.

Sometimes, when implementing strong security measures on a vital computer system, a technique called air-gapping is used. Air-gapping is a measure or set of measures to ensure a secure computer is physically isolated from unsecured networks, such as the public Internet or an unsecured local area network. Sometimes it’s just ensuring the computer is off the Internet. But it may mean completely isolating for the computer: removing WiFi cards, cameras, microphones, speakers, CD-ROM drives, USB ports, or whatever can be used to exchange data. In this article I will dive into air-gapped computers, air-gap covert channels, and how attackers might be able to exfiltrate information from such isolated systems.

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