There is a never-ending war between hackers and computer security companies, with both trying to come up with new, impressive ways of getting one over on the other. In the newest wave of innovation, it has been found that hackers have been using a cheap, small gadget to steal encryption keys.

Weakness in Radio Signals

Israeli security researchers have identified a weak spot in many computer security systems, as they are able to capture radio emissions given out by laptops, which inadvertently leak data about the keys being used. Previously it was thought that in order to attack using this method you would need bulky, expensive equipment, so this breakthrough has surprised everyone.

Tell-tale Signs

The device – made with cheap components and so small it could fit inside Pita bread – was able to monitor the radio signals given off by laptop’s CPU’s when they are working. It was able to determine many different operations by analysing the characteristic radio activity it gave off.

Through monitoring these signals when the CPU was decrypting encoded messages, it was able to work out the key being used to secure the data. This is very worrying news for the security industry, as it creates huge worries about the hardware being used in conjunction with the software solutions.

Attacks do need to be made in close proximity however, as this device needs to be within around 50cm of the CPU in order to work effectively. This doesn’t make it any less worrying, as researchers were able to steal encryption keys from several of the most widely used encryption programmes and algorithms currently being used to protect data.

What’s more, this hacking can be done efficiently in mere seconds – meaning that you could lose access to all your secure files in just minutes! While this would have to be an ‘access’ job, if this technology continues to be developed then it could become a real threat.

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What Can Be Done?

While this may not be your biggest security threat at the moment, it will pay off to properly protect yourself from an attack of this sort. This means updating your protocol and ensuring that the devices you are using to encrypt programmes aren’t giving off tell-tale signs through their radio signals.

In addition to this, hosted SFTP can help to keep sensitive files out of harm’s way and secure them against threats such as these. By securely hosting your data away from your business then it becomes much more difficult for hackers to gain access to your important data.