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Wireless keyboards aren't are safe as you might expect them to be

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July 26, 2016

It appears that millions of low-cost wireless keyboards could be very susceptible to a security vulnerability that reveals passwords and other private data to hackers in clear text form.

Called 'KeySniffer' the security vulnerability creates a means for hackers to remotely “sniff” all the keystrokes of wireless keyboards from eight manufacturers from distances up to 335 feet away.

“When we purchase a wireless keyboard, we reasonably expect that the manufacturer has designed and built some kind of security into the core of the product,” said Bastille Research team member Marc Newlin.

“But unfortunately, we tested several wireless keyboards from no less than twelve manufacturers and were very disappointed to find that eight manufacturers were susceptible to the KeySniffer security vulnerability,” he added.

The keyboard manufacturers affected by KeySniffer include-- Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Kensington, Insignia, Radio Shack, Anker, General Electric, and EagleTec.

Vulnerable keyboards are always transmitting, whether or not the user is typing. Consequently, a hacker can scan for vulnerable devices at any time.

Overall, wireless keyboards have often been the focus of many security concerns before. Six years ago, the KeyKeriki team exposed weak XOR encryption in certain Microsoft wireless keyboards.

Then in 2015, Samy Kamkar’s KeySweeper exploited Microsoft’s security vulnerabilities. Both of those took advantage of shortcomings in Microsoft’s weak encryption technology.

The KeySniffer discovery is different in that it reveals that manufacturers are actually producing and selling wireless keyboards with no encryption at all.

Bluetooth keyboards and higher-end wireless keyboards from manufacturers including Logitech, Dell, and Lenovo are not susceptible to KeySniffer.

Bastille notified affected vendors to provide them the opportunity to address the KeySniffer vulnerability prior to going public on Tuesday.

Sadly, most existing keyboards impacted by KeySniffer cannot be upgraded and will need to be replaced, it warns.

Bastille’s discovery of KeySniffer follows several months after the discovery of MouseJack, another security vulnerability this time affecting millions of wireless mice from many different manufacturers.

Source: Bastille Research Inc.

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