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Beware the Haunted Cordless keyboard 291

dr. greenthumb writes "The norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reports about an incident where a computer suddenly seemed to develop a life of its own. A game which the user could not remember using that day suddenly appeared on the screen. When he went over to shut it off the screen displayed a message asking him if he "really wanted to delete this file?" His computer was receiving keystrokes from another computer (with the same type of wireless keyboard) 150 metres away! Check out the full story and a follow-up, where experts warns against using wireless keyboards." /me plans to destroy Hemos' sanity...
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Beware the Haunted Cordless keyboard

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  • see why... (Score:5, Funny)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:45PM (#4586462) Homepage Journal
    not all supposedly convenient technologies are necessarily better or more convenient. I like having a cord on my mouse and keyboard because 1) i know it's connected and 2) i know another isn't. Wireless keyboards etc. have no less a security risk involved as would a wireless network. Imagine being logged on as root and having the guy on the floor above you type in rm -rf /. while you hit the bathroom. even if your door is locked, you're still screwed.
    • by kleinux ( 320571 )
      That would suck to explain to the boss. I didn't see the hacker because I was in the bathroom!
      On a side note, maybe now my roomate will stop suggesting that we go wireless. I think the stuff sucks mostly because of needing to by batteries for something as basic as a keyboard seems really off the wall to me.
    • Re:see why... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wireless mice arent much of a security hazard. if anyone is able to listen in on your wireless mouse, all they are going to get is cursor cordinates. unless you somehow enter your password using your mouse, theres not much usefull info to gain from a wireless mouse. It will also be very hard for someone else to do something to your pc though a cordless mouse, unless they can also see the screen. I cant stand corded mice anymore after owning a wireless mouse. Whenever i use corded mice in labs at school, or friends houses, i always find myself tugging on cords that get tangled up with something on or behind the desk or keyboard drawer. I however will never own a wireless keyboard. I had thought of security issues such as this long before this article appeared.
    • Imagine a little cluster of computers running an instance of Counter Strike, you'd have an army all through the commands of a single keyboard. Kind of like Mr. Dubya Bush.
      Forward men, we must kill the noobs!
    • You know precisely when your wireless kb/mouse are connected.

      They are wireless to a base connected by cables to the mouse/kb mini-dins or to usb.

      That is, unless you have a blootooth-enabled motherboard and a BT kb & mouse
    • Re:see why... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PunchMonkey ( 261983 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:09PM (#4586557) Homepage
      I like having a cord on my mouse and keyboard because 1) i know it's connected and 2) i know another isn't. Wireless keyboards etc. have no less a security risk...

      Don't place too much confidence in the security of your keyboard, someone might slip one of these [thinkgeek.com] on.
    • That, and the bloody batteries won't run out in the middle of a very important task...
      • Speaking of which; why the hell do people want cordless mice/keyboards in the first place? What did the cord ever do to you? I can see 10 years into the future, where in addition to having kilowatt power supplies, we'll be filling up all the landfills with alkaline batteries to keep our mice and keyboards well fed; and for what -- to get rid of that ever-so-annoying.... cable? I just don't get it.
    • well, not only that.. but imagine somebody running a keyboard logger to get your user logins to everywhere.
  • 256 channels??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:46PM (#4586466)
    The attitude companies have towards security is appalling. Wireless keyboards have to use strong cryptography or credit card numbers and personal information are being broadcast across the neighborhood. 256 channels isn't going to fix it.
    • My logitech cordless desktop has a "Secure Mode" that can be enabled where the keystrokes between the receiver and the keyboard are encrypted.

      It's probably not any high-powered military strength security or anything, but I'm sure it's sufficient for my purposes.
    • For those of us in the audience that didn't notice:

      Särelind said the next generation of keyboards would use a new technology which would choose randomly between 256 available channels, and promised to send both Evjeberg and Helle a copy.

      The "256 channels" isn't for their existing wireless keyboards, it's for their "next generation" models.

      A bit shy of cryptographically secure, I'd say. Credit card numbers and personal information aren't all that's at stake; think about your passwords, PGP passphrases, etc.

    • instances like the above case are extremely rare. like they say, 25 feet is a max range. My keyboard doesnt work beyond 10. Except for people living in areas with certain environmental conditions (which are intermittant), this isnt a problem. Unless the hacker decides to steal your info by getting in the same room as you (this is of course, after actually FINDING you) its simply not going to happen.
      • just because it only works at short range does not mean that it can't be detected at longer range. For instance 802.11b two way communications only works at about 100m with even decent cards (Cisco pcmcia nic talking to Cisco AP) but you can listen in at maybe a half kilometer with the proper high gain directional antenna. Any wireless communication that has the potential to carry any important information should use encryption.
  • This must violate FCC requirements - you know that text on the bottom of your keyboard and mouse.
    • Part 15 says they have to take flak from other licensed services and that if 2 part 15 devices are interfering with one another, tough luck they have to take it. Now if a part 15 is interfering with a licensed non part15 device then you have a problem that must be fixed...
      • by lostchicken ( 226656 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:12PM (#4586567)
        To be more complete, a Part 15 device is a secondary (or tertiary, if there is already a secondary) user of the entire radio frequency spectrum. That means that they can use the RF spectrum, as long as they don't cause harmful interference to a user with higher priority.

        That means that if your device is hurting my ham radio operations on 146.880 MHz, then I sic the FCC on you, but if I interfere with you, I have primary user rights, so you're outta luck.

        The primary, secondary, etc. system is just a pecking order for RF users. You can interfere with those with higer priority all you want, but Part 15 is always at the bottom.
  • by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:47PM (#4586469) Journal
    Wireless keyboards have other security issues. Read up on the discussion that took place about this on SecurityFocus: http://online.securityfocus.com/archive/82/173944
  • WOW ! What kind of keyboard was it ??? My Logitech kb/mouse work AT MOST at 10~15 mts, and only if their batteries are full.

    I guess you might have a wireless presentation mouse, i have a gyromouse too, but i find it unlikely that 2 are used in the same office simultaneously.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:48PM (#4586475)
    I have the same trouble with my tv remote. After the wife goes to bed, it turns to the TV-MA flicks on Cinemax and then clicks back to TLC or something whenever she walks in.

  • by ShawnDoc ( 572959 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:48PM (#4586476) Homepage
    With Bluetooth finally making an appearance, expect to see a lot more of this. Since Bluetooth devices are supposed to automatically find each other and just "work", this is only going to become more common. Imagine giving a very important PowerPoint presentation when everything goes hawire when someone giving a presentation of their own the next floor up has their Bluetooth remote starting giving signals to your computer.

    I know there are security and other settings that when properly configured will help prevent these mistakes, but just look at the number of unsecured business wireless networks out there that don't even have WEP turned on. Its going to be nasty.

    • Bluetooth is a close-range wireless protocol (about 10mts), and products are "bound" to each other, if you re using a wireless headset and walk close to some one using one they wont mix signals.
      I would be much more worried to someone "stealing" my emails/contacts from my bluetooth pda, using my cellphone to dial out, and eavesdropping on my conversations, than messing up presentations

      • by ShawnDoc ( 572959 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:05PM (#4586539) Homepage
        10 meters is about 30 feet. That'll easily cover 2 floors up or down from you.
        • Yeah, well its open air 10mts so instead of 3 floors you have, at best, 1.5 floors centered on the device.

          Remember that, in offices, floors and ceilings are covered with cables for telephone & networking and electricity. Which also helps to cut down on the range.
        • But, as he stated, the signals are encrypted from the handshake on, and therefore won't mix. They may, however, interefere and cause packet loss.

          Could someone really get into a device over bluetooth without authorization? Aren't there passwords or signed ID or something that prevent this? Or at least an "OK" key on devices to confirm a link?

          It's that sort of thing that convinces me we are a bit ahead of ourselves at all times...
    • Bluetooth security may not be perfect, but it's a whole lot better than this. Bluetooth devices are paired and can encrypt their communications. Furthermore, setting up Bluetooth security is much simpler than setting up 802.11b security, and many devices will simply not work unless the end user does. If all wireless keyboards switched to a proper Bluetooth implementation, security would be a whole lot better than with these random RF hacks.
    • Since it's obvious no one here knows a thing about bluetooth, I'll throw my hat in to the ring...

      Although bluetooth is going to be a wireless technology, it does not compare to anything else we have right now. It is designed with reasonable security in mind.

      Think of it like your garage-door opener. The idea is that you type in your password on each of your bluetooth devices, then only devices with the same password can communicate. Now, it is up to the manufacturers to impliment this security however they see fit, but you can still bet it will be far better than our current wireless keyboards, mice, remotes, etc.

      That said, I know far too much about batteries (esp. rechargables), to use them unless necessecary... So, I'll be sticking to wired keyboards and mice wherever possible.
  • by zulux ( 112259 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:48PM (#4586477) Homepage Journal

    VNC in an office environemnt is a lot of fun with all the Windows users that never notice the little VNC server icon in the 'systray' - right next to their Gator and Bonzi Buddy icons.

    I've got the keystrokes down just right

    [Ctrl]+[Esc] -> r -> notepad -> Do you want to live, human? -> [F4]

    under a second. Leaves the poor things troubeled. Confused. Hungering for the sweet realse of alcohol or a shotgun.

    Or just move the mouse subtely when they go to click on somthing.

    Of course, don't forget to tell them that it could be Bill Gates fucking with their computer - he's mad that they diden't forward the Windows 95 Beta email. He really wanted to give them $1000 and he's pissed his knickers.

    • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:07PM (#4586547) Homepage Journal
      And fortunatly there is even a Mac version of VNC, you should have seen the look on some of the graphic guys faces when their beloved Macs turned on them and told them to use PCs by order of Bill Gates at a web development company I worked at a few years ago :)
    • This is all I need... I just spent the better part of a day removing some SubSeven-like hax0r-expl0it thing that some guy installed on a friend's computer. And the person who thought she could remove it ended up ruining the uninstall. Of course given that I live in a university rez, this is going to make for some revenge and, because I'm "the computer guy", I will probably be quite busy. If these people start playing with VNC and other things beyond their (apparently limited) scope of understanding, I may never graduate!
    • Yes.

      It *is* quite fun to know the WAN-wide VNC password.

      *evil grin*

      No, I wasn't responsible for that little detail.
    • When I had pcAnywhere installed on my old machine it was pretty simple to fire it up on the old @home network and suddenly finding myself on a password-less PC. I also ran notepad but wrote, "Put a damn password on your pcAnywhere!"

      That's the nice thing about the open VNC apps, you can't run them without some password and if you try to brute force it (at least in tightVNC) it locks you out for x amount of time. Not to mention its free. Yes, I know there's no built in encryption, but that's besides the point.
      • pretty simple to fire it up on the old @home network and suddenly finding myself on a password-less PC. I also ran notepad but wrote, "Put a damn password on your pcAnywhere!"

        A frend of mine had @home - I spent a fun-filled evening attaching to pepoples printers and printing out porn, Jack Chick tracks [chick.com], Gynocology Doctor remonder notices for their 8am discharge examination, and a 'turn you fscking Windows sharing off' how-too's. Annoying and yet, informative.

        • I can attest to the fun in the benevolent maleficence in messing with people's PCs. I took my home NAT box offline to do some work on it, and decided to hook up my laptop to raw ethernet over DSL in the meantime. I simply could not believe the ammount of computers that were wide open, with Admimistrator password left blank, and c:\ shared. Winders Messaging Service is also quite the source of entertainment.

          Being the nice guy I am, I made up an instruction sheet detailing how to fix the problem, and printed it to whatever shared printers existed.

          It's no wonder that 11 year olds are so able to DoS whatever they want. The truely scary thing is that one of the computers was property of my ISP.
    • [Ctrl]+[Esc] -> r -> notepad -> Do you want to live, human? -> [F4]

      under a second. Leaves the poor things troubeled. Confused. Hungering for the sweet realse of alcohol or a shotgun.

      This reminds me of something, once I was using VNC to connect to my home's win98 machine. You see, my funny little brother was using the computer at the same time, and when he saw all this windows pop-up automatically and shut-down...he literally went nuts. Lo and behold, he thought the computer had a virus and shut the computer off right way.

      Boy was I pissed when I lost my VNC connection; right about when I was ready to download "my stuff" queue on fridays.

  • by Defender2000 ( 177459 ) <defender2000NO@SPAMmindless.com> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:48PM (#4586479) Journal
    That's right, WarKeyboarding! Boost the signal of your keyboard, and drive around town attempting to control random computers. Not seeing a screen is kind of difficult, but that's only a minor obstacle. Also use a tuned receiver to listen to keystrokes from around town. Passwords galore!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:50PM (#4586490)
    My Log?tec keyboard hask been working for the law#tst two years witout any hi19tch.

  • by DrFatal ( 587634 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:50PM (#4586493)
    Finally I'll have a decent excuse why that webpage full of naked women was on the screen when my girlfriend walks into the computer room. "I swear honey, it wasn't me.."
  • Most wireless keyboards, like garage door openers, have their own unique codes and frequencies built in to them so one cannot interface with another in the same way.

    The guy has just probably been netbus'ed, back orificed, etc, or someone's playing pranks on him...
    • by aridhol ( 112307 ) <ka_lac@hotmail.com> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:55PM (#4586506) Homepage Journal
      In theory, yes. How many combinations of frequency and code are there? My uncle used to work in a Ford factory, and every car that rolled off the assembly line together used the same key. It's possible that they keyboards have a similar problem.
      • My neighbor's garage door has a similar problem. Somebody one block down must have a garage door frequency the same as hers. Once in a while her door will go up or down on it's own.
      • People think you're kidding, but you're not. My brother's Toyota was 'stolen' by someone who got in the wrong locked car one night and drove it across campus. (Toyotas have one key for the door and ignition.) Same color, same year, same model...same key. In the light of day, they both reported their cars missing.

        Of course, almost any car can be unlocked by a slim jim anyway, so it's not worth worrying about. If you want your car to not be stolen, you need either to disable it (What I do.), or put a lowjack in it.

        It's usually not that hard to kept your car from running. If someone tries to steal my car, they'll find the ignition can be hotwired like normal, but for some odd reason it won't shift out of park...and no, I won't tell you why that is.

    • Most wireless keyboards, like garage door openers, have their own unique codes and frequencies built in to them so one cannot interface with another in the same way.

      According to the manual of my car, I can open some garage doors simply by revving my car's engine. I've not tried it, though.

    • by OttoM ( 467655 )
      Most wireless keyboards, like garage door openers, have their own unique codes and frequencies built in to them so one cannot interface with another in the same way.

      You are a bit to confident:

      • Available channels for these type of devices are very limited, so they have to share.
      • Cheap mice and keyboard don't do unique numbers, because it makes the devices more expensive: you have to pair devices during manufacturing and packaging, for example.
      • Garage doors openers have a notouriously bad track record on security. Ross Anderson's "Security Engineering" [slashdot.org] contains lots of real life examples.
      So the story might have been true very well.
    • Most wireless keyboards, like garage door openers..
      Hell, dude, didn't you ever go around town with your parents garage door opener and see how many doors you could open? We used to just leave the doors up (I know, I know... don't moralize in my general direction, OK?) to make the people freak out in the morning. Our record was five doors in one night. Thing is, garage door openers had three wheels with 0-9 on each, so there were only a thousand possible combinations available to them. In tract suburbia, this is trivial. Considering that HP said their newfangled, not-yet-released keyboard has 256 channels, they aren't even as secure as the dufus garage door openers we used to play with. RF is a pretty nice party line when it comes down to implementation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:52PM (#4586496)
    I uLse a LogUitecZh wirEelRess and mYouse. It's beOen happUening Rso muKch laEteYly, I'vSe gotAten uRsed to iEt. ThoRse meddUlinLg kiEds! GooDd thiDng they cOan't tRype as fKast at me.
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:55PM (#4586505)
    Today's mice are well known to spiral the cursor in a circular motion around your screen at a high rate of speed, clicking the screen randomly when their internal circuitry begins to fry.

    I've witnessed it twice ... once at a colleague's desk, and another time during an application demo.
    It's great fun to explain that the problem is the mouse and not your app to a room full of speculative non-technical people.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've never Classified: had For Your problems Eyes with it Only.
  • by updog ( 608318 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @10:59PM (#4586518) Homepage
    150 meters? that's cool... since i use inches and feet, i'm not affected.
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:00PM (#4586520)
    "His computer was receiving keystrokes from another computer (with the same type of wireless keyboard) 150 metres away!"
    • What's a meter?
    • by tunah ( 530328 )
      For non-americans:

      A meter is something that measures - eg water meter, odometer, thermometer. Commonly confused with metre which is the SI unit of distance.

      For americans:

      A meter is either something that measures (see above) or a weird unit of distance only used by scientists and geeks. It is commonly confused with a metre, which is a conspiracy by the europeans to make everything two thirds smaller. They don't need double garages, because their car fits in one!

    • It's metre, you insensitive clod!

    • What's a meter?

      A meter is a tool for measuring something.

      A metre is the length travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299 792 458 of a second. This is approximately the side length of a cube containing one ton (1000 kg) of water. Also, a litre is defined as 0.1^3 metres (same as one kg of water).

      The metre,kg and litre are part of the metric system, which is the standard in all civilized and most uncivilized countries.

      I've heard tales of a big country across the Atlantic, where they still measure stuff in units like feet, stones, pounds, gallons and grandfathers-length-when-he-died, but I have a hope that we someday will manage to teach them the metric standard, how to read and how to elect sane presidents.
    • by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @04:03AM (#4587256) Journal
      > What's a meter?

      You mean metre. It's a measuring unit used by NASA about half the time.

  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:01PM (#4586525) Homepage Journal
    I've been using a wireless keyboard anpined mouse for ages and I've haHey baby, I miss you!d no problems siWanna get together tonight?nce I got them.

    Seriously, though. I've been using Logitech cordless desktops for years - I've had four in my apartment in close proximity with no problem, and used several at work as well. If a mouse or keyboard syncs with a base unit, it syncs to *that* unit. You can sync multiple devices to a base unit, but I have never seen a device sync to multiple base units. A nice little thing about Logitech's system is that they are all compatable - I like the simple diamond mouse and a keyboard without extra multimedia buttons, and detest the ergonomic "crashing wave" mouse. I can pick and choose my keyboard and mouse, walk over to a computer, hit the sync button and start using it at that terminal. The only problem I've ever had was when the living room computer was next to the multimedia computer and you sometimes synced to the wrong one... so you'd check before typing willy-nilly. :)

    Wireless keyboards and mouses are great - I swear by them. I change batteries maybe once every 4 to 6 months, and don't ever have to worry about cables. At home I type in my lap, and can have my phone right against the top of my mousepad, my monitor to the left, and a glass of tea to the right and not worry about the cord catching the phone cord or knocking over the tea.

    Now, I *would* like an encrypted signal, sure... but gimmie a break... who the hell cares to capture a few hours of my posting to Slashdot and writing rough drafts of lyrics? Certainly not *my* neighbors. Still, I ssh to my servers, and it would be really nice to have a secure connection to my keyboard. If I was really paranoid, I'd stick my monitors in a Faraday cage to prevent the video signal from being broadcast... everybody is sending *that* out (where everybody = really close to 100% of all computers).


  • Has anyone considered selling wireless hardware that would let me generate my own keys. Then let me install my own keys in my own hardware.

    Preferrably with the option of selecting the encryption standard.

  • by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:36PM (#4586635)
    If only we could secure wireless technologies. Maybe we could have the signals travel in a secure method - maybe down some sort of tube. maybe the tube would have to have some sort of "antennae" - maybe it should be of some conductive material - like copper.

    We should also make sure that these "tubes" are shielded in some way - with maybe a suple rubber coating.

    Then the wireless signals could travel through this "tube" from the keyboard to the computer - thus rendering them safe from nasty hackers that may be listening.
  • by geddes ( 533463 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @11:43PM (#4586658)
    I just picked up a Logitech Cordless Access Keyboard a week ago, and I am incredibly happy with it. The convenience of being able to sit in my bad and control divx movies in mplayer is great :-)

    I live in a dorm situation, so it is very possible kids who are nearbye will interfere/send keystrokes/recieve keystrokes from my computer. However, Logitech promises Cordless freedom through multi-channel digital radio technology with secure encryption [logitech.com].

    Loitech assures us that the kind of stuff mentioned in the article cannot happen [logitech.com]:

    To avoid the chance of interference between cordless products, every Logitech cordless product integrates a 12-bit security ID, which allows the receiver to uniquely identify the emitter (i.e., the cordless device, itself) that it is listening to. The 12-bit ID provides 4096 unique combinations of digits, lowering the risk of interference to less than 0.25%. Additionally, in some Logitech cordless keyboards and mice, multi-channel RF technology allows the channel to be changed in the event of a conflict.

    To further minimize the impact of the already uncommon conflict or interference, some Logitech cordless keyboards now include secure encryption that protects the security of the data being typed on and transmitted by the keyboard.
    But I can't find any more details about this technology. So some logitech keyboard have encryption, some don't. I wonder how easy it is to add encryption to these thigns without latency. I don't want to press "a" and wait 2 seconds while the signal decrpyts for the a to appear on my screen. I wonder how simple or complex the encryption is on my cordless access keyboard. Is it a simple XOR like the AIM passwords or is it real encryption? I don't know. But frankly, I am not worried.

    Bottom Line: zero encryption with 12-but ID codes is good enough for me. If someone really wanted to get at my credit card numbers, they would probobly come into my unlocked room and find my wallet with my credit card in it instead of building a device to pick up the radio signals from my keyboard. Logitech claims a .25% chance of interference, and as long as my keyboard work, that is also good enough for me.

    • The 12-bit ID provides 4096 unique combinations of digits, lowering the risk of interference to less than 0.25%.

      The only problem with this is that it represents the chance that any TWO such mice have the same 12-bit ID.

      Have you ever played that game where, in a room of 25 people or more, you proclaim that at least two people have the exact same birthday? The chance of two people sharing a birthday in a room of 22 people is about 50%. The chances get much greater as the number of people increase. You wouldn't think it, because the probability that any two random people share the same birthday is 1/365. But as you increase the number of people, this goes up greatly.

      For your mouse, there are 4096 possible combinations. So the probability that any two such mice will share the same ID are 1/4096. But if you have, say, 100 people, then there are 100*99 ~= 10,000 possible pairings. It's been a while since I took statistics, but I can wager that at least two of those people will share the same ID.
    • The convenience of being able to sit in my bad and...

      ...Yes, it was, wasn't it? ;-)
  • Logitech (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Natchswing ( 588534 )
    Speaking of logitech, I just bought the elite duo wireless mouse and keyboard. The keybaord has you go through some sort of securing process where it transmits a code to the keyboard then shows the code on the screen and asks me to enter it.

    Now, I really have no clue whether this is just for show of if it actually does something. Does anyone know?

  • by Nanite ( 220404 )
    And there, in the computers disk drive... WAS A HOOK!

  • Alternatives? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:53AM (#4586812) Journal
    How about a wide-spectrum IR-type keyboard. You'd have to align the transmitter and receiver, but at least the signal wouldn't be escaping the confines of your house/apartment/etc.

    Also, how about security wireless mice? There's no password-sniffing risk, but I guess somebody could move the cursor around on your PC and delete files etc... not quite as bad as keybpard access though.

    Can anyone give any info on available IR mice/keyboards? Most checks in search engines seem to just links about mice using IR for movement detection, not transmission
  • This is the same kind of crap that went on with early cordless telephones.
  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:43AM (#4586930)

    Southern New Jersey police [slashdot.org] dispatchers were wondering why they were receiving requests for New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Boston Celtics statistics on their monitors....
  • Such incidents are prone to happen when things are new. One colleague nearly scared to death a University teacher in the beginning of the 90's, and guess how, using the fresh new and revolutionary remote control technology. Today we have all these Remote Admins, VNC, Terminal Services and so. Back then, people were only starting to see these things. And well, one colleague took control of a machine and started playing with it. I saw what was happening with the teacher while the show went on. Imagine someone in its late 40's, using a good suit, with a small Lenin-like beard and a good hair-cut. Now, this is not a joke, imagine how he went out the room - hair all up, his Lenin-like beard pointing forward, with the upper buttons of the shirt open, trembling and with wide eyes open...
    That's one of the first remote control jokes...
  • beware also... (Score:2, Informative)

    by nirvanis ( 571685 )
    ... this gadget [thinkgeek.com].
  • ...when I was visiting a customer. We were working on something on my laptop, discussing changes to a website,
    when suddendly the mouse started to move around horizontally. We stared at it in amazement for a while, then I
    moved the mouse and it all stopped. My best guess is induction from a nearby power line, but I don't really know :)
  • I recently had a job where I supported wireless keyboards and mice.. it was in a big cube farm, and alot of the other techs had this equipment to help troubleshoot it..

    Anyway, for about a week straight, every day when I would come in, I would have netscape open, emails open, etc..

    I had originally thought that someone was messing with my pc at work when I was gone, but at the end of the week, the offending person was there and used his mouse and it controlled my keyboard... With those first ones we had to, there were only 2 channels you could use, so its a bad idea for any sort of mid-large company..

    They are now making bluetooth keyboards / mice and are supporting them there, I don't work there anymore though so don't have much of an idea if it works better...
  • by handsomepete ( 561396 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @09:10AM (#4587729) Journal
    This release includes an encryption feature for the Cordless Freedom(TM) Optical and Cordless Freedom(TM) iTouch(TM) keyboards only.
    You can snag 'em here [logitech.com]. No Linux, and there appears to be only an encryption free [logitech.com] version for OSX. Looks like the above are the only types of keyboards that support it.

    Now, will someone please explain to me how updating drivers for a 3 year old wireless keyboard will encrypt the path from the keyboard to the receiver? I'm honestly asking, because I don't get it. Or does it only work for recent revisions of these keyboards? I don't think this wasn't a part of the drivers when I bought it a couple years ago. I tried to ask LISA [logitech.com], their magical online support, but all I got was:
    "LISA I found no items pertaining to 'encryption'."
    • Now, will someone please explain to me how updating drivers for a 3 year old wireless keyboard will encrypt the path from the keyboard to the receiver?

      There could be a number of legitimate ways this happened:

      1. The encryption feature was there all along, but they didn't get around to supporting it in the software until now. This often happens in commercial hardware products, when you hit a deadline and the drivers just aren't ready. Although 3 years does seem a bit excessive.

      2. The driver actually downloads code to the controller in the keyboard, thereby "upgrading" it to include encryption.

      3. The hardware supported it all along, but they were having trouble getting their government paperwork to ship a product with encryption. So they just yanked the feature out of the driver until such time as the paperwork is done. Now its done so they are shipping the drivers.

  • by call -151 ( 230520 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @09:32AM (#4587790) Homepage
    This issue is not brand-new, at least not to a lesser extent. The wireless keyboard on the PCjr [oldskool.org] from the mid 80s had line-of-sight IR connections that you could do all kinds of fun tricks with. I remember a few gems:
    • Writing a 'burglar-alarm' program that sat there expecting the space bar to be pressed constantly. Then putting the keyboard across the way with a book sitting on the space bar. If anyone walked by and interrupted the beam, the alarm would go off. Fun to do across people's cube entryways. (Yes, I was writing software that was supposed to work on those things...)
    • Normal TV remotes would interfere with the keyboard signal and cause the PCjr to beep annoyingly and not recognize commands. I have fond memories of taking a remote to computer stores and surreptitiously pointing it from my pocket at the PCjr when the salesman at Sears was demonstrating the wonders of the wireless keyboard to someone. (Yes, I was an Apple II/Mac partisan and actually thought there was some danger the PCjr was going to take over the world... How could I have known that it was going to be one of the most remarkable flops of all time? )

  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig...hogger@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @11:07AM (#4588234) Journal
    One day, the TV started changing channels wildly. And we couldn't find the remote.

    Turns out it fell between two of the couch cushions, which were depressing the "next channel" button...

Parallel lines never meet, unless you bend one or both of them.