Researchers hack and crack Microsoft wireless keyboards

A radio receiver and a copper-wire antenna all that is needed to hack wireless signals between keyboards and computers from as far away as 33 feet

An attacker could, Moser continued, send keystrokes that represent the Windows key, then the "r" key to open Windows' Run command-line interface, then other keystrokes to launch Internet Explorer and download a malicious file from a malware-hosting site. "The user would notice the keystrokes, but you could wait until he stops typing and goes for a coffee. Or until after he leaves for the day if he keeps his computer on." Moser said they've also figured out a way to broadcast the rogue keystrokes, so that any wireless keyboard within range accepts the bogus data.

"Once we understood the signal -- and this was not just about understanding the encryption, but about how the data was configured and transported, because it's completely proprietary -- we were able to not only record the traffic, but also send it out again," said Moser.

Keyboards that communicate via Bluetooth are much more secure, Moser said, because the key must be sniffed at the moment when it's exchanged -- in Bluetooth's case, that's when the keyboard is first paired with the receiver.

Symantec recommended that users consider tossing out wireless keyboards. "[Their] research also suggests that many other keyboards are likely to have the same level of weak encryption," said Symantec researcher Raymond Ball in a warning to customers of the company's DeepSight threat system. "Customers are advised to assess the need for any wireless input device used in a secure environment, not just keyboards. Although wireless input devices are convenient, they are rarely necessary."

The Moser and Schrodel research was completed with help from remote-exploit.org.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?