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Researchers can ‘steal’ data by tracking a PC monitor’s brightness

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Ben Gurion University

There are already ways to siphon data from computers without a network connection or old-fashioned physical theft, but this might be one of the cleverer examples. Researchers have found a way to steal data from “-gapped” computers (that is, no way to to other devices) using an LCD’s brightness. The approach has a compromised computer relay imperceptible changes in the LCD’s RGB color values that a camera-equipped device can detect. could theoretically trick someone into loading on the target system through a USB drive and use nearby hijacked cameras to transmit that information.

Don’t worry about someone reading your login details through the window any time soon, though. As the methods imply, a data thief would still have to breach the victim computer and have cameras they control within line of sight. This could be helpful for intelligence agencies performing Stuxnet-style intrusions, but an attacker can’t just sit outside your home and read data from your computer monitor. Still, it gives ultra-secure facilities something to think about — they might not want to place cameras behind air-gapped computers lest a rival nation pull some Mission Impossible-level espionage.

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