Hackers Can Actually See What You're Typing On Some Wireless Keyboards

Attackers can intercept the radio signals from up to 250ft away.

27/07/2016 11:42

The words being typed on a wireless keyboard can be easily seen and stolen by hackers, a cybersecurity firm has warned.

The worrying revelation was made by San Francisco-based Bastille which said that many wireless keyboards were transmitting what was being written in “clear text” which makes it very easy to snoop on.

Bastille found that in some cases they could snoop on what was being typed from as far away as 250ft.

AFP via Getty Images

What’s worse is that the cybersecurity firm said that none of the keyboards affected could be updated to fix this problem and recommended that they should be replaced immediately.

The team have called the vulnerability KeySniffer and have confirmed that there are at least 12 manufacturers that are making keyboards with this loophole.

“When we purchase a wireless keyboard we reasonably expect that the manufacturer has designed and built security into the core of the product. Unfortunately, we tested keyboards from 12 manufacturers and were disappointed to find that eight manufacturers (two-thirds) were susceptible to the KeySniffer hack.” said Marc Newlin, Bastille Research Team member responsible for the KeySniffer discovery.

KeySniffer is a set of vulnerabilities that affect non-Bluetooth wireless keyboards. Rather than using Bluetooth, these models use unencrypted radio signals which can then be easily snooped on using equipment that costs less than £60.


David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab believes this should never have been an issue in the first place.

“It would seem that none of the affected firms has taken measures to warn customers or take steps to secure the products – something that might not be possible anyway.”

“It’s vital that manufacturers of such devices consider security at the design stage, not least because trying to retro-fit security is likely to be a lot more difficult.” he said.

Emm recommends that if you are looking to buy a wireless keyboard, or indeed any wireless device like a mouse then you should check that it’s Bluetooth and that it includes safety features which stop it from being hacked.

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