Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University’s cyber security research lab have developed a highly innovative technique of spying on isolated computers.
The researchers have unveiled a new technology that uses a combination of highly-controlled drones, stealth techniques and a horde of other methods to access information that is stored on secluded computers.
Speaking to the media, one of the researchers involved in the project, Mordechai Guri, said that the new technique may be the ultimate solution to the problem of how to access computers that are totally isolated from the internet.
‘In our findings, we have indicated that the small LED light that functions as the indicator of the hard drive of any modern-day computer can be exploited to relay the data that it stored on the computer,’ he said, referring to the complex method that the technology uses to steal information.
For years, researchers have been grappling with the issue of how to gain access to secrets stored on computers that have been isolated from the internet. It has been widely believed that the technique of isolating highly sensitive computers, also known as the air-gap technique, is the most effective form of defence against cyber attacks that organisations can use.
Many organisations that handle highly sensitive information are believed to be using this technique to guard against possible cyber attacks.
However, it now appears that cyber security researchers have finally found a way of breaking the air-gap cyber defence.
According to the researchers, the process of using the new drone-based technique to steal data stored in a secluded computer starts with gaining physical access to the computer.
The researchers believe that it is possible to compromise one of the individuals who have legal access to the computer. Once an individual delivers a specially-made malware program into the computer, it becomes easy for hackers using the new technology to access the secrets stored on the computer, the researchers note.
It is further noted that the opportunities for delivering the malware to the computer abound, with some of them, said to arise when personnel update the programs running on the secluded computer.
Once the malware is functioning, the specially designed drone carrying a camera can be dispatched to hover over the building in which the secluded computer is located. By synchronising with the hard disk LED indicator of the computer, the drone can siphon off all the important data that is stored on the hard drive of the secluded computer, thus rendering the air-gap defence method useless.
The findings of the research are yet to be applied in a real-life scenario.