Data breach and hacking activities are so prevalent that all the major social media platforms, email and cloud solution providers are actively looking towards strengthening their security measures. But most of the users fail to understand the security measures to be implemented on their conventional devices such as phones, desktops and laptops. A study conducted by the researchers from the Ben Gurion University of the prestigious Negev (BGU) Cyber Security Research Center has brought a sensational result. They found that it is possible to steal data from an isolated ‘air-gapped’ computer’s hard drive or HDD through effectively reading out the pulses of lights or flickering of the LED lights and deploying different types of camera and light sensor to serve the purpose of receiving the transmitted data.

A covert way of stealing data from computers

Researchers has shown and even demonstrated how they made use of Quadcopter drone flight to receive the flight by staying in the line of sight of the infected computer from which data was being transmitted.

It should be noted that the air-gapped computers usually remains present in isolation which means they’re not connected to any public networks. Such computers are usually present in the small and large businesses and tend to contain highly sensitive and confidential information.

How this research has been performed?

Researchers had utilized a hard drive with LED lights which can be found on most of the usual desktops PCs as well as laptops globally. In their research they found that once the malware has been brought in the system then it can achieve indirect control over the HDD LED thereby effectively turning it on and off in rapid pace.

The pace is so high i.e. thousand of flickers within a second that a person is unable to record with his or her naked eyes. Now hackers can steal highly sensitive information placed on the hard drive through encoding it and later on leaking it over the fast LED signals.

This particular signal can be received or even recorded by any remote camera or light sensors which essentially complete the task of leaking or stealing the data without raining any suspicion at all.

Opening the eyes of the world

This unique method of stealing data right from the hard drive through LED infiltration has opened the eyes of the world. This method is extremely covert as the hard drive LED keeps flickering without giving any reason for the user to feel suspicious of this activity but with the a camera a foul minded individual can easily steal data from it.

This team has conducted a large number of studies which brings to the conclusion that a number of malware can be utilized to infiltrate the air-gapped computers and transmit data from it without user’s knowledge. Their easier studies has also shown that apart from the LED lights the speakers, fans and even the FM waves and heat generated by the computers can be utilized towards obtaining data in a covert fashion.