It looks like a standard USB wall charger for your phone, but there is more than meets the eyes with this insidious invention. The KeySweeper is an Arduino-based device that is capable of recording every single keystroke typed on a wireless Microsoft keyboard and transmitting them back to a host. The device can even send text message alerts when a certain combination of keys has been typed - say, when it involves online banking or credit cards.
Metro spoke with renowned hacker Samy Kamkar, the brainchild behind the prototype device.
Why did you create this rather crafty little gadget?
— I wanted a wireless keyboard at home so I went out and bought one. By the time I walked home, I wondered how secure it was and if people would be able to “sniff” my keystrokes… Apparently they can!
Is the KeySweeper practical or is this just your way of exposing flaws in IT product protection?
— This is a demonstration of the everyday insecurities that are silently concealed within our devices. I believe some governments and bad agencies are interested in gadgets like this.
How did you make the gizmo?
— I developed it in a way so it firstly finds the radio frequency your keyboard is communicating on automatically, and then is able to detect that it's a keyboard by the communications and begins to wireless monitor the communications.
Can it really decrypt any keystroke from a keyboard, even from the “safest” one?
— Yes, it can decrypt every key of almost every Microsoft wireless keyboard.
I imagine you don't have a target public. But do you think that it could be used by anyone?
— Anyone is the audience as it's not meant for people to abuse, but for people to learn what is possible.
The KeySweeper took $10 to make. Do you plan to sell in en masse for profit?
— I don't sell them, this is simply the cost of raw materials to build it. I exemplify how inexpensive it is to exploit.
So, what are your plans now?
— I have no other plans. I've made everything public, open source and open hardware for people to deeply inspect and understand the problem, and to make wiser decisions when using keyboards in their homes and businesses.