Users of wireless keyboards and mouse should note that many of these devices are easy to hack. Hackers are apparently able to eavesdrop on the keystrokes of users ?remotely? from several hundred feet away with the help of a mere $100 device. While wireless keyboard hacking in general is?not new, a new research points to a slew of famous brands that are manufacturing such vulnerable devices. Unaware users are buying them because they are relatively inexpensive.
Wireless Keyboards Working Mechanism
Wireless keyboards operate by transmitting ?radio frequency packets? from the keyboard to the USB dongle plugged in the paired laptop/system. The words typed down using the keyboard are wirelessly sent to the dongle. The job of this dongle is to listen for radio frequency packets sent from the keyboard. Once it receives them, it notifies the laptop about the keystrokes.
How are Hackers Able to Eavesdrop on Wireless Keyboards?
Prominent cyber security firm?Bastille Networks says inexpensive wireless keyboards and mouse from well-known brands are betraying their customers. Such wireless devices reportedly transmit information (keystrokes) in an ?unencrypted format? that makes it easy for hackers to snoop into every word you type down. This includes usernames, passwords, bank details, sensitive information, security questions and credit card numbers.
In general, wireless keyboards are supposed to protect the users by encrypting the data obtained via keystrokes before sending the information to the paired systems/laptops/tablets. This encryption helps in protecting the user data from the hackers. But the reality is that most wireless keyboard brands do not offer?encryption.
In some cases, the encryption is apparently not perfect. For instance, not too long ago, a researcher found an?encryption flaw in Microsoft keyboards, which was wiretapped by a small handmade device that decrypted the data easily.
The recent research says about eight brands of wireless keyboards are vulnerable to such remote eavesdropping. Such attacks are reportedly termed as ?Keysniffers.?
Technical Details of Wireless Keyboard Hacking
The research says wireless keyboards communicate using protocols operating in the 2.4GHz ISM band. However, unlike Bluetooth, there is really no industry standard for wireless devices. Each brand follows its own security standard. This is precisely why the wireless keyboard hacking is widespread.
8 Brands Affected by Wireless Keyboard Hacking
According to folks at?Bastille Research, the Keysniffer vulnerability affects non-Bluetooth wireless keyboards. The brands that are susceptible to this attack are ?Anker, EagleTec, General Electric, HP, Insignia, Kensington, Radio Shack and Toshiba.?
How to Protect Unencrypted Wireless Keywords from Getting Hacked?
Bastille Networks says that as the wireless keyboards do not support software fixes or updates, there is no real way to solve this issue. Therefore, wireless keyboard users are advised to buy either a Bluetooth keyboard or a wired regular one to protect their data. The other way is to switch to a high-end wireless keyboard that offers encryption.