Data stealing has many forms. Hackers use a wide range of techniques to steal sensitive data from users and sell them in underground forums for money. As the white hats are defending against every new technique of black hats, they invent new methods to steal data. And here’s a new technique unveiled by researchers that could potentially steal data from computer screen’s brightness!

We have come a long way. We’ve seen data being stolen from general password hacks, account compromising, malware attacks by phishing. But the new age attacks are affecting the system heat produced, radio waves, ultrasonic waves and even altering the power supplied to PC. And now, there’s yet another inventive method of doing so – Air Gap.

Hack Sensitive Data from Your Screen's Brightness
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The new method

From the research made by Mordechai Guri and his team from Ben Gurion University in Israel, they’ve successfully exfiltrated data from an air-gapped PC, which is distant and not connected to internet network in any way. Making this experiment possible firstly needs the attackers to implant malware in the victim’s computer. So, researchers here have done it. They planted a malware that can modulate the brightness coming off from the screen.

Capturing and Conversion

This malware is capable of modulating the data in ASK, thereby turning it into the binary language of 0s and 1s. While these are caused due to slight brightness variations in display emissions, they’re almost impossible to be detected by a human’s naked eye. But, can be detected and translated by the researcher’s systems.

As every pixel on screen consists of RGB, each of them emits different colours varied by content. And this can be captured by hackers by compromising any surveillance camera or web camera that’s directly monitoring the screen. And if this feed is gathered, the hacker, as researchers did, can translate the emitted brightness into readable language. This can be used for a number of exploitations thereafter.


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