Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Using keyboard can cause hacking

An audio recording of an individual's typing can be transposed into a transcript of what was typed, according to University of California at Berkeley researchers. The technique works because each key makes a distinct sound when hit and users leave enough time between keystrokes for a computer to isolate the individual sounds.

The researchers were able to take several 10-minute sound recordings of users typing at a keyboard, feed the audio into a computer, and use an algorithm to recover up to 96 percent of the characters entered.

While any sort of typed documents could be pilfered through this technique, the study underscores the vulnerability of passwords, said Doug Tygar, a UC Berkeley professor of computer science and information management, and a principal investigator of the study.

The work builds on research conducted by IBM's Dmitri Asonov and Rakesh Agrawal that showed how 80 percent of text typed could be recovered from keyboard recordings. Those experiments, however, were tightly controlled. The results of their findings will be presented Nov. 10 at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference in Alexandria.

Further experiments will take place. The researchers didn't examine what happens when the Shift, Control, Delete or Caps Lock keys are hit. Taking mouse actions into account also raises a major problem.

After reading this story at ZDNet, I was really shocked so I decided to share it with you. I wonder how "secure" our computers will be in future when Hackers and Crackers are growing at such a fast pace that one can't imagine!

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