FM Radio Hack Allows Data To Be Routed Out of Isolated Networks

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Everyone knows that isolated networks aren't perhaps as secure as people hope. Now, a security researcher has developed a way to route data from a closed network using just a computer monitor and some humble FM radio waves.


A team from Ben-Gurion University in Israel has created a system called AirHopper that uses an exploited PC monitor to transmit FM radio signals. They can then be picked up by an FM-equipped smartphone and simply decoded to reveal the information contained within. Voila, data beamed straight out of an isolated network.

It's worth noting that this exploit isn't going to dump terabytes of data out at great distances: it can only transmit a few bytes a second, and only works over a range of about 7 meters. But the researchers have demonstrated that it can be used to record the host machine's keystrokes in real-time—which is, perhaps, all you need.


It's not the first time that air gaps have been overcome to squeeze information from a closed network, but it's the first time we've seen it done using a largely unaltered—and essential—PC component like a monitor with just a smartphone to pick up the data. It's unlikely to affect many of us—but it is a clear reminder than even networks we think of as being secure can be hacked if the prize is big enough. [Ben Gurion University via Engadget]

Image by when i was a bird under Creative Commons license