You don’t need a sophisticated high-end gizmos to steal data from a highly secured computer because, given the right circumstances, sometimes all you need is one of those old dumb phones from the primitive times, yeah sort of like that! Researchers in Israel have demonstrated that it’s possible to steal small amounts of data from a computer that’s isolated from the internet, which is also known as an air-gapped computer, using an 9-year-old Motorola C123 phone that doesn’t have any modern-day functionalities such as a mobile data connection or Wi-Fi. Thanks for a special kind of malware that the researchers installed on the phone and the target computer, the researchers were able to extract data via electromagnetic waves that computers naturally emit.
While this research shows that there are always ways to steal information from air-gapped computers, but here’s a big warning here. This whole method relies on having malware installed on both the phone and the computer.
In other words: the target computer needs to be hacked first in order for this method to work.
Either way, the researchers called this a “breakthrough” in their upcoming paper. And as Wired’s Kim Zetter notes this attack allows hackers to extract sensitive data such as passwords or encryption keys.
However, this story has been corrected as some reports said that this technique could be used to get the GPS coordinates of a computer, but in reality, an attacker would presumably already know the location thanks to the phone.
See how it’s done in the video below: