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Researchers Sniff Keystrokes From Thin Air, Wires 217

narramissic writes "Two separate research teams have found that the electromagnetic radiation that is generated when a computer keyboard is tapped is actually pretty easy to capture and decode. Using an oscilloscope and an inexpensive wireless antenna, the Ecole Polytechnique team was able to pick up keystrokes from virtually any keyboard, including laptops — with 95 percent accuracy over a distance of up to 20 meters. Using similar techniques, Inverse Path researchers Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco picked out keyboard signals from keyboard ground cables. On PS/2 keyboards, 'the data cable is so close to the ground cable, the emanations from the data cable leak onto the ground cable, which acts as an antenna,' Barisani said. That ground wire passes through the PC and into the building's power wires, where the researchers can pick up the signals using a computer, an oscilloscope and about $500 worth of other equipment. Barisani and Bianco will present their findings at the CanSecWest hacking conference next week in Vancouver. The Ecole Polytechnique team has submitted their research for peer review and hopes to publish it very soon."

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