Hackers find new and innovative ways of stealing data, one of the most exuberant one being through recording hard disk sounds. The researchers that invented the method gave it the name ”DiskFiltration”.
The experts advise people that the safest way to keep data secure is to disconnect the system from all networks.
Even so, a couple of theoretical exploits give arguments that not even a full disconnection could prevent hackers from stealing data.
This is the case with BitWhisper, a software that uses heat scanning to get the information out of a PC not connected to any networks. Other IT experts managed to use the case fan noise to retrieve data from a device.
On a similar note, the scientists from the Ben-Gurion University in Israel found a way to use the hard drive acoustic signals to extract information from a computer.
The method was named DiskFiltration, and it’s similar to the one employed by the case fan project. The device uses the actuator that moves across the platters of the hard drive to send signals. In fact, it manipulates the component in such a way that it sends audible signals which are later recorded and decoded.
The scientists used a smartphone to control the DiskFiltration from a remote distance, at a range of six feet, meaning that the person could seamlessly steal data by wandering around the computer in question.
However, the speed of the hacking device is around 180 bits per minute, which makes it incredibly slow and most of all, inefficient. For example, a 100kb document could be stolen in 74 hours.
If recording large amounts of data from afar is not possible with DiskFiltration, the theoretical hacking device could steal an important document, such as those containing passwords and encryption keys. The total time needed to swipe such a file would be of around 25 minutes.
The hacking model is, however, purely theoretical. At least under laboratory conditions, with every element perfectly controlled to suit the design, such a device might be proven to function.
The issues lay more on the practical side of the matter. Installing the malware in the computer needs to be done by an inside person. Another argument that makes the DiskFiltration very hard to use is that it is limited to hard drives. The solid state drives have no moving components, and thus they cannot be hacked in the same way.
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