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Beware The Phone Chargers

They look harmless, but they're super spies!

Nicole Billitz
Beware The Phone Chargers© 2017 KeySweeper

But it’s also a wireless encryption device that reports all your computer's keystrokes to the spy’s smartphone. 

You think it’s a harmless USB wall charger. It is. But it’s also a wireless encryption device that reports all your computer's keystrokes to the spy’s smartphone. If that’s not James Bond, we don’t know what is. The little box top known as KeySweeper was built by Samy Kamkar, who received some worldwide fame many years ago due to a malware he uploaded to Myspace.

“KeySweeper is a stealthy Arduino-based device, camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger, that wirelessly and passively sniffs, decrypts, logs and reports back (over GSM) all keystrokes from any Microsoft wireless keyboard in the vicinity”.

The keyword here is wireless keyboard. It can only affect certain kinds of wireless keyboards, specifically targeting the Microsoft keyboard. Microsoft, for it’s own defense, has stated, according to TechCrunch, that it “only affects its 2.4Ghz (not BlueTooth) keyboards released before July 2011. Even if it’s ‘only’ the older keyboards, remember: outside the gamer crowd, most people don’t update their keyboards very often”.

KeySweeper can track the keystrokes as you type, which means usernames and passwords, and send them via SMS to whoever planted the device.

KeySweeper has a list of incredibly creepy things it can do, including track the keystrokes as you type, which means usernames and passwords, and send them via SMS to whoever planted the device. It can also store the data it stole on the device (the USB wall charger) via USB. It uses electrical power from the wall to do it’s dirty deeds, and when unplugged, it STILL works, even though you think you have successfully thwarted it and turned it off. But no, it just goes to battery power.

However, fear not (too much). Most wireless keyboards have been installing encryption mechanisms to prevent just these kinds of sneaky devices. However, for those super sleuths, Kamkar is estimating the cost will be anywhere from $10 to $80 dollars, but he is currently not selling them.

 

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