Cyber criminals can spy on your PC or mobile phone even when there is no internet connectivity on your device, claim researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology. Apparently, low-power electronic signal emissions, called “side-channel” signals, from laptops and mobile phones can allow hackers to intercept user activities and Android smart phones are particularly prone to these kinds of attacks. Through these signals, hackers may be able to tell when you edit a document, look at photos and when you enter a password, with the help of an antenna and a microphone.
The difference in the signal emission by the processors is said to help deduce the operation that is being performed on the device. The GIT researchers asseverate that there exists a design flaw in devices that makes them vulnerable to hackers, who are able to eavesdrop on user activities from a few feet away. The victim on the other hand, will be denied even the benefit of doubt since there is no way to tell that signals from your devices are being tapped. Despite speculation about this kind of exploitation there is no evidence of any attack so far.
Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for ways to infiltrate the user’s device to steal information. Even if it were possible to gather information through side-channel emissions, we believe that cyber criminals would not opt for this route on a large scale. The nature of professional cybercrime is such that the distance between victim and attacker is generally several thousand kilometers, i.e. over a network of interconnected devices. It is hardly likely that a cybercriminal would tune into emissions from the user’s device from just a few feet away. The probability that a hacker can match a password to the corresponding website when you type in a password on your device or decide which emission comes from which particular individual’s device seems pretty low. In any case let us await independent verification of the alleged design flaw.
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Archana Sangili, Content Writer
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