July 16, 2016

Here’s How to Hack a Computer from 100 Meters by Hijacking its Wireless Mouse or Keyboard

For a trivial amount, attackers can build a device that enables them to take complete control of a computer by exploiting vulnerabilities found in infinite wireless mice and keyboards. Security is an essential entity for every individual in order to secure their confidential and private content. But, it is quite arduous to be secure all the time due to malicious hackers. No matter how strong and secure you think your computer might be, something malicious can ever happen. As a device like PC or a laptop is an open book with appropriate tools and skills. The same is proved by a group of security researchers by hacking into a computer neither using an internet connectivity nor a Bluetooth device.

Quite shocking, isn’t it? You heard it correctly. Yes, it is possible for attackers to hack your computer through non-Bluetooth devices such as your wireless mouse and keyboard and install Malware or Rootkit onto your machine. That minuscule and diminutive dongle plugged into your USB port to transmit data between your wireless mouse, and the computer is not as innocuous as it portrays to be. There are high possibilities of your computer getting hacked by this tiny device.

What’s the Potential Vulnerability?

A false wireless computer mouse and keyboards can be utilized by threat players to hack PCs or laptops from up to 100 meters away. Security experts from the Internet of things security firm Bastille Networks have warned that wireless keyboards and mice manufactured by several popular vendors are vulnerable to security hacks leaving billions of computers vulnerable to hackers.

The experts confirmed that the attack called MouseJack attack, is likely utilizing the portable peripherals manufactured like wireless keyboards and mice by almost seven popular manufacturers including Amazon, HP, Lenovo, Logitech, and Microsoft.

Actually, the flaw remains in the mode these wireless mice and their analogous radio receivers handle encryption.
The connection between the tiny dongle and the mouse is not encrypted and consequently, the dongle would accept any seemingly valid command.

What is MouseJack Attack?

MouseJack is a class of potential vulnerabilities that affects the huge bulk of wireless, non-Bluetooth keyboards and mice. These peripherals are ‘connected’ to a host computer using a radio transceiver, usually a small USB dongle. Since the connection is wireless, and mouse movements and keystrokes are sent over the air, it is potential to compromise a victim’s computer by transmitting specially-crafted radio signals using a device which costs as little as $15.

Potential Vulnerability via Wireless Mouse and Keyboards

Bastille Security traced out the vulnerability in a controlled, experimental environment. The vulnerability would be quite complicated to duplicate and would require physical proximity to the victim. It is therefore, a difficult and unlikely path of attack.

How to Hijack Wireless Mouse and Hack a Computer?

Step 1: Wireless mice and keyboards broadcast via radio frequency with a tiny USB dongle inserted into the PC or a laptop. The dongle then transmits packets to the PC, so it simply follows the mouse clicks or keyboard types.

Step 2: Although most wireless keyboard manufacturers encrypt traffic between the keyboard and the dongle in an attempt to thwart spoofing or hijacking of the device.

Step 3: However, the mice tested by Bastille did not encrypt their communications to the dongle, permitting an attacker or hacker to spoof a mouse and install malware on victim’s device.

How to hack a computer using wireless mouse and keyboard

Step 4: With the cost of approximately $15-$30 long-range radio dongle and a few lines of code, the attack could enable a malicious hacker within 100 meters range of your computer to prevent the radio signal between the dongle plugged into your computer and wireless mouse.

Step 5: The hacker can, accordingly, send packets that generate keystrokes rather than mouse clicks, enabling the malicious hacker to lead your computer to a malicious server or website in few seconds.

Step 6: During their experiments, researchers were capable enough to generate 1000 words/minute over the wireless connection and install a malicious Rootkit in about 10 seconds. They tested various mice from different manufacturers like Logitech, Lenovo, and Dell that work over 2.4GHz wireless communications.

Who gets Affected?

Here is the list of the wireless keyboard and mouse manufacturers whose non-Bluetooth wireless devices are affected by the MouseJack flaws:

  • Logitech
  • Dell
  • Lenovo
  • Microsoft
  • HP
  • Gigabyte
  • AmazonBasics

Billions of PC users with wireless dongles from any of the above-mentioned manufacturers are at jeopardy of MouseJack flaw. Even Apple Macintosh and Linux machine users also could be vulnerable to the attack. These mice are separate from Bluetooth mice that are not influenced by this security problem.

Watch the Video How to Hack a PC via Wireless Mouse:

YouTube video

No Patch Will be Received by the Wireless Devices

The security researchers have already reported the security issue to all the seven wireless devices manufacturers, but as of today, only Logitech has released a firmware update that prevents MouseJack attacks. However, there are a vast number of inexpensive mice that don’t have updatable firmware, due to which all of them will endure vulnerable perpetually, which could be an influential problem in business circumstances where peripherals are frequently utilized for certain years before being replaced.

Despite Lenovo, HP, Amazon, and Gigabyte not yet responded, a Dell spokesperson suggested the users of the KM714 keyboard and mouse combo to get the Logitech firmware patch via Dell Tech Support and the KM632 Combo users to replace their devices. Here’re the list of affected devices, so if you are using one of them, it is now the time to check for updates, and if not possible, just replace your current peripheral.

About the author 

Imran Uddin

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