Attention users: New malware commits data theft by the sound of your processor!

Once installed, it locates data on the machine and transmits it by controlling the speed of the machine's CPU and cooling fans, creating acoustic waveforms that are then received and deciphered by a nearby listening device.

Updated: Jun 26, 2016, 16:47 PM IST
Attention users: New malware commits data theft by the sound of your processor!
(Image for representational purposes only)

New Delhi: Many scientists and researchers have earlier demonstrated ways of defense against cyber attacks through the use of ultrasonic waves coming from a machine's speakers.

However, a team of Israeli researchers claim to have created a malware that can extract data from an isolated computer without an internet connection, camera or audio hardware, merely through the sounds produced by the machine's processor and cooling fans.

Researchers at Israel's Ben Gurion University elaborated on how an attack meant to be used against isolated or “air-gapped” machines that wouldn't normally be accessible, could be done by controlling and listening to the speed of the machine's fans and CPU, which doesn't require it to have any speakers, cameras or other hardware.

Motherboard quoted them saying that, “Using our method we successfully transmitted data from [an] air-gapped computer without audio hardware, to a smartphone receiver in the same room. We show that our method can also be used to leak data from different types of IT equipment, embedded systems, and IoT devices that have no audio hardware, but contain fans of various types and sizes.”

Motherboard further reported that the malware, which presumably infects machines via a sneaky double-agent wielding a USB stick, works a bit like morse code. Once installed, it locates data on the machine and transmits it by controlling the speed of the machine's CPU and cooling fans, creating acoustic waveforms that are then received and deciphered by a nearby listening device.