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Type Me Your Password
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 15:14:52 -0500 (CDT)
By Robert Blincoe
Posted: 15/06/2001 at 13:45 GMT
Wireless keyboards are insecure and hackers can sniff-out every
password you type on them.
This is the verdict of a warning posted on Bugtraq by German security
outfit Daten-Treuhand. The company has tested Logitech's Cordless
Desktop product and outlined how a hacker could intercept a users'
You connect your cordless keyboard to your PC by first pressing a
connect-button on the receiver, and then another button on the
keyboard. A fixed set of transmit-codes are sent between the receiver
and the keyboard until the receiver locks in on the first undistorted
code it gets. Keystoke data is then transmitted between the two via
The problem arises because each transmitter/receiver pair does not
appear to be hard-coded to match each other, according to Axel Hammer
of Daten-Treuhand. "They simply seem to run out of the fab and the
customer connects them the first time he is using the set, according
to the manual. This leaves the crucial backdoor to connect whatever
device you have to whatever receiver you have," he wrote in his alert.
"The receiver waits for 30 minutes after initialising a connect for
new devices to sync to them, even if there has been an undistorted
reception of at least one sync-code. An attacker is able to sniff the
connect-sequence of a victim's device from far and to lock-in to the
code of the victim's devices or to take control of a victim's device."
Hammer says that it is possible for the victim and the attacker to
read the keystrokes without the victim noticing the attack. And to
sniff a connection of wireless devices, all you need is a receiver
from the same manufacturer, same model, and by slight modifications it
is possible, to extend the range of the receiver to about 30m.
Daten-Treuhand recommends using infra-red devices if you have to go
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