Hackers Can Steal Data Wirelessly From PCs Even When You Are Offline

Photographer: Arnulf Husmo/Getty Images Oil rig control room, North Sea.

When governments, utilities and corporations need to protect their most sensitive data, they create what’s called an air-gap network. It involves storing information on computers that are never connected to the Internet, an extreme method of isolation designed to prevent any chance of data leaking out. Reports Bloomberg

Air-gap networks were once considered the “magic bullet” for securing data, but researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel have found a way to compromise those machines. Once a computer is infected with a particular kind of virus, hackers can trick the PC into relaying information that can be wirelessly retrieved from a mobile phone located outside of the room.

The technology won’t be used to steal something as innocuous as your Gmail password. This is some Mission Impossible stuff that a cyber-espionage gang or state-sponsored hacker might use to access extremely valuable secrets.

“The scenario is that you go to a secure facility and leave your cell phone at the entrance,” said Dudu Mimran, chief technology officer at Ben-Gurion’s cybersecurity labs. “The virus will send the data to your phone.” Read more