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Academics Steal Data From Air-Gapped Systems Using PC Fan Vibrations

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Artist's representation of stealing a password.

Researchers have demonstrated that you can use control the vibrations of fans installed inside a computer to steal data from air-gapped systems.


Academics at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel have developed the AiR-ViBeR technique for stealing data from air-gapped systems by manipulating the vibrations of fans inside computers.

BGU's Mordechai Guri said malware planted on an air-gapped system can control fan speed, and attackers can rig the frequency of vibrations by moderating fan speed up and down, with the vibrational patterns spreading throughout the nearby environment.

A nearby attacker can use accelerometer sensors in smartphones to record the vibrations, then decode the information concealed within the vibration pattern to reassemble the stolen data.

Hackers can either record the vibrations by positioning a smartphone on a desk near an air-gapped system, or use malware to infect the smartphones of employees working for a targeted company operating an air-gapped system.

However, AiR-ViBeR is extremely slow, enabling data exfiltration of only a half-bit per second.

From ZDNet
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