Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

It turns out that the NSA can “jump the air gap”

It turns out that the NSA can “jump the air gap”

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In case you missed it, the other day news broke indicating that the NSA could spy on you using radio waves, that is, even if your computer was not connected to the Internet.

From CBS News:

The New York Times reported that the technology, used by the agency for several years, relies on radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted covertly into the computers. The NSA calls the effort an "active defense" and has used the technology to monitor units of China's army, the Russian military, drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime U.S. partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, the Times reported.

When I read this, I was impressed that they could do this; it’s a big technological achievement. Formerly, it was believed that if your computer was not online, you were safe because data could not be relayed back to anyone. It turns out this sense of security is misplaced.

At the same time, I was disconcerted that this technology actually did exist. I said to myself “Um… really?”

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Via Reason.

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  • that is the reason sys admin guys here lock the system(applies only to desktop) with physical key and lock and add glue to the spare usb ports so that users cant plugin any of their device.

  • At first I was somewhat taken aback. Then I saw that they had to install a device into your computer. Now, I'm thinking what's the big deal? If someone has physical access to your computer, you have potentially lost all security anyway.

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