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Wireless Keyboards Might be an Open Door for Thieves

     
2:18 pm on Jul 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It seems that the humble wireless keyboard might be giving hackers and easy way to spy on your every keystroke. According to research published recently, several wireless keyboards don't even encrypt the data transmitted to the computer, with the data is sent in plain text. Worse still, it's possible for the wireless signal to be received as far as 250-feet away.

Manufacturers were informed, but that doesn't solve the problem for people using the keyboards, only that it may be fixed in due course. The best solution to this is to use a wired keyboard.

I have one of these in the house and i've already stopped using it. I'm ordering a wired keyboard right now.

Wireless Keyboards Might be an Open Door for Thieves [theatlantic.com]

[edited by: engine at 3:45 pm (utc) on Jul 27, 2016]

2:29 pm on July 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This has been known for some time. I don't use wireless keyboards and make that recommendation on a routine basis!
2:49 pm on July 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think the point of this story is the fact that these keyboards, with no encryption, are still being manufactured and supplied, despite the warnings. Encrypted transmissions are likely to be a tougher nut to crack, and wired keyboards are the safer solution.
2:55 pm on July 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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[theregister.co.uk...]

As this reveals some mfgs don't bother to provide encryption of any kind.
3:48 pm on July 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Exactly, and it's just completely stupid, imho. I mean, how difficult is if for major companies to add encryption!
6:54 pm on July 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm a boring kind of person who has always used a wired keyboard except at my voluntary rescue work place [I didn't set that up].

As a long time amateur radio operator, and a professional marine rescue radio operator I think I live in a big enough radio frequency pea soup without adding to it.

The silly part is wired is so much cheaper - cheap as chips in fact.

The cable is a worry? People should see the sea of cables over and under my desk, I can count fifteen power cables alone, before I get to a ton of USB cables, then video cables, antenna cables, network cables...
12:41 am on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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>>I'm a boring kind of person who has always used a wired keyboard

me too! actually everything is wired here, there's cat5 sockets everywhere, no wireless of anykind, except for the tv remote control!
i might be overly paranoid :)

the cellphone is also wireless, but it can't connect to the network here - no wireless internet available in this house! - so it is isolated.

also for the sake of full disclosure i have a mobile/wireless credit card machine - but again it isn't connected to any of the network here, it is totally self standing.

i just know all this wireless data flying around is trouble waiting to happen!
12:44 am on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Wireless all the way. I'll never go back to wired. I hate wires!
11:21 am on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Thinking about it; A wireless keyboard that is encrypted could be more secure than wired. There would be no way to have someone add one of those innocuous keystroke logger dongles in the chain and MITM you.
11:43 am on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just another newspaper story written for sensationalism. Users stand a greater chance of signal interception at Starbucks than someone lurking outside your window.
1:16 pm on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The story really is that the manufacturers continue to leave an open door. I find that pretty poor, and it shows how much they think of privacy and security of your system.

As IanCP says, there's already major wired spaghetti under his desk, and mine, too, so a couple more won't make a great deal of difference.

I have a wired keyboard on its way.
1:37 pm on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My Logitech and MS wireless keyboard models weren't on that list of non-secure keyboards but reading thier product descriptions I see no mention the signals from the USB antenna to the board are encrypted (I have long ago disgarded the boxes.)

Regardless, my studio (office) is high up in a building so a would be easedropper would need to employ an air born drone to compromise my security.
1:33 am on July 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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a would be eavesdropper would need to employ an air born drone to compromise my security.

That may sound abnormal and rare, but there are wardriving drones that are used for sniffing all kinds of signals. Then if you're in a building like that you still have neighbors in range...

Wikipedia
Officially Class 3 radios have a range of up to 1 meter (3 ft), Class 2, most commonly found in mobile devices, 10 meters (33 ft), and Class 1, primarily for industrial use cases,100 meters (300 ft).[3] Bluetooth Marketing qualifies that Class 1 range is in most cases 2030 meters (6698 ft), and Class 2 range 510 meters (1633 ft).
Then you have Bluetooth 4 with a range of 200 feet (60.96 m), and the upcoming Bluetooth 5 will have a range of 800 feet (243.84 m), so it's not inconceivable that these signals could be sniffed by neighbors.
4:16 am on July 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I see little difference between the possible threat of wireless keyboard eavesdropping and the unsecured mobile networks of our phones or public wifi hotspots & networks. We've just become accustomed to those headlines. All these threats are real and are significant under the right set of circumstances.
4:54 am on July 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Being reminded of these things is important. I know it's easy to become complacent after seeing the stream of similar headlines. If someone buying a new keyboard takes a second now to check if the connection is encrypted, then articles like this have served their purpose.
 

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