Hacking Without Network Connection


We often talk of Network security in the context of networked computers. In the present days of wireless connectivity we also understand that network connection can be established without a wired connection.

But a question which is now doing the rounds is "Is it possible to manipulate a computer through electro magnetic impulses sent from a distance" without any network connecton.?

I reproduce here an extract from iwar.org.uk which provides some revealing information on this aspect.

"....Your computer screen emits radiations, even with the strictest standards (civil), and it is possible, with the adequate equipment, to reconstitute the contents of your remote screen. This technique was employed by the FBI during the monitoring of Aldrich Ames, a KGB agent found within the CIA.

The term used by the American army to describe this technology is TEMPEST monitoring. Equipment protected from this type of listening is known as TEMPEST certified. The standard  defining the details, such as the quantity of emitted radiations authorized, in order to avoid any detection is classified. In the United States, it seems that the use of the TEMPEST monitoring is possible by the government without court authorization  whereas it is illegal, for a private individual or a private company, to protect himself !

If the design of such equipment is within the range of a team of engineers, then it is extremely probable that bad guys can also procure such equipment without problem to devote themselves to criminal activities...."

The Tempest (Transient Electromagnetic Pulse Emanation Standard))devices come in the form of a Card that can be installed in the computer and are  expected to be available for around USD 1000 in the years to come.

It is understandable that the CRT monitors which work on electromagnetic radiations may be susceptible to spying and if so for manipulation of the information display. (It is interesting to note that even the LCD monitors also emit Electromagnetic radiations which can be picked up from a distance.)

However it is not clear if electro magnetic radiations have been succesfully used to say erase the data on  a hard disk from a distance though it is not difficult to imagine such a possibility.

The next question that arises is "Whether such intervention can be controlled so that a specific data string can be created on a remote hard disk.".

Since Key Boards are also said to emanate electromagnetic radiations, it should theoretically be conceded that by identifying and simulating the electromagnetic radiations emanating from a Key Board there may be a possibility of controlled modification of  data in a computer.

It would be a challenge for security specialists to protect computer data from such invisible remote attacks referred to as Van Eck Phreaking.



November 16, 2004

Related Article:

Is It Possible to Eavesdrop on Electromagnetic Radiation?..Slashdot.org
Electromagnetic Radiation from Video Display Units: An Eavesdropping Risk?

Soft Tempest: Hidden Data Transmission Using Electromagnetic Emanations

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page

TEMPEST Attacks Recreating data from electromagnetic waves


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