Criminals could capture data from wireless keyboards

A piece of Open-source software could be hijacked by criminals to steal people's personal data, according to security firm

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Cyber-criminals could use so-called “sniffer” software to steal sensitive data from users of wireless keyboards, so says Symantec, the makers of Norton Security software.

The security firm said that an open-source project, dubbed Keykeriki, which has been developed by a group called and theoretically is intended to be used as an educational tool or to test the security of wireless keyboard transmissions, could be dangerous to users of wireless keyboards.

This is because the software and schematics can be downloaded from the Internet, there is nothing to stop criminals using it as a remote keystroke logger that can capture every keystroke without having to install malware onto a PC, said Symantec.

“The criminal implications of this are immediate and obvious. It would mean that someone would be able to remotely capture every keystroke made without having to install anything on to the system and capture personal, sensitive information such as passwords and bank details,” said Symantec.

The company “strongly recommends” using wired keyboards in the office and public places to avoid making critical data vulnerable.

I must say though that this appears, yet again, to be an attack by the proprietary software companies and those that love closed codes on Open Source software.

While it may be a case that cyber-criminals could use the software and even change the code as it is an open source application I am sure there are other keyloggers out there that are in use by such criminals that have been written by this or that member of their criminal fraternity.

To blame the fact that the software is Open Source is, in my opinion, once again, as said, an attack on Open Source.

On the other hand I can but agree with Symantec's recommendation to use wired keyboards. Not only are those safer in use as no signals being transmitted – via the ether – that could be “sniffed out” and also wire keyboards are (1) cheaper and (2) greener.

While wireless keyboards and rodents may be nice as there are no wires cluttering up the desk I personally prefer wired keyboards and mice and that for the previously mentioned reasons, including and especially the security aspect.

But before we all go off the deep end here I think we must also consider that the range of wireless keyboards is not really all that great and the “sniffer” would have to be rather close to the transmitter and transmissions of such a wireless device. Most wireless devices do not cover more than a few yards and unless the “sniffer”, as said, is very, very sensitive it should not be able to do much at all.

Obviously one must be careful and, as Symantec stated, it is therefore best to use wired keyboards, for security alone.

© 2009