Computer criminals may soon be able to listen in and capture the electromagnetic signals produced on keyboards when specific keys are pressed.
Swiss researchers have been able to analyse the signals generated by the keys and reveal what characters were pressed. The research was carried out at the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).
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The security researchers have developed four different attacks that work on a wide variety of computer keyboards, reports the BBC.
As a result, the research students have declared that keyboards are "not safe to transmit sensitive information".
One attack was shown to work over a distance of 20metres. The researchers used a radio antenna to "fully or partially recover the keystrokes".
The students tested 11 different keyboard models that connected to a computer via a USB or a PS/2 socket. The attacks also worked with keyboards embedded in laptops.
If the research is carried over to the criminal fraternity, they would have an extra weapon to hack into keyboards, in addition to keylogging software that can be inadvertently downloaded by users from rogue websites.