I was wondering if anybody out there has researched security of wireless
keyboards. Although I'm sure many people have very interesting opinions,
what I need is solid technical information.
A sneaky eavesdropper, Eve, would like to find out some gossip on her
neighbor, Alice. Eve knows that Alice uses Yahoo for her email, and would
just love to be able to log in to Alice's Yahoo mail account. But she
doesn't know Alice's password. But luck, it seems, may be in Eve's corner,
as Alice has recently installed a snazzy new wireless keyboard/mouse combo
on her home computer. Eve, using her formidable knowledge of radio and
electronics, sets up an antenna to pick up keyboard transmissions from
Alice's house. After some persistence, Eve's laptop records a username,
alice yahoo com and a password, "opensesame". Eve, ecstatic, logs on to
Yahoo with the captured password and reads Alice's email, discovering lots
of juicy secrets.
Although this Alice/Eve scenario is fictional, it seems plausible. For a
true story, see:
My job involves reviewing computer security at a bank, and I was very
surprised to see that nearly all of the computers at one of my branches are
using these wireless mouse/keyboard combos. It seems like this could be a
potentially serious security risk, so I would like to do some research on
this topic. If these manufacturers have incorporated strong security
measures, then I would like to know what they are. Or if not, then it would
be better to know than not to know so as to take appropriate precautions.
(see the above PCWorld story. Note that only 4000 combinations are used,
trivial for a computer to crack) Of particular interest to me are:
1. How possible/easy/difficult is it to eavesdrop and capture keystrokes
from a wireless keyboard using passive means only? What equipment/expertise
does this require? (I am thinking it would probably take at least a spectrum
analyzer, receiver, a laptop, and some custom software) What about taking
the keyboard apart and reverse engineering it?
2. How easy/difficult would it be to take control of a computer without
having physical access to the keyboard at the console? What
equipment/expertise would this require? (Probably at least the same as
above, plus a transmitter)
One example of a wireless keyboard/mouse combo is displayed here:
By entering the following FCC ID's into the FCC website, you can get quite a
bit of interesting information.
FCC ID's: C3KKB9 (keyboard), C3K1008 (mouse)
There are many docs, including photos and lab tests, on the associated
pages. For example, FCC docs show that this particular keyboard transmits on
a frequency of 27.095 - 27.195 MHz. From the internal photos, it doesn't
seem there are enough electronics to perform advanced encryption.