Data security: Espionage via power network by software "Powerhammer" technically feasible

Data security: Espionage via power network by software "Powerhammer" technically feasible

16.04.2018 at 19:30 The domestic power grid can also serve as a network through appropriate adapters for sockets. But now researchers have been able to send data over the power network of a PC that is not actually connected to a network. This could in theory provide for a new method of espionage – but in practice the method seems less useful.

Even for PCs that are not connected to the Internet, there is a theoretical risk of espionage from the outside. Because researchers from Ben Gurion University (Israel) have – as well as Spiegel Online reports – developed a method of tapping data on the power grid to which the target object is connected. Thus, it would be conceivable that one can spy on data even from PCs that are in highly sensitive areas such as in power plants or government institutions and for safety actually not even connected to a network, let alone connected to the Internet. The data comes about as follows: a software that was baptized by the researchers “Powerhammer” summarizes the target data and overloads areas of the CPU that are currently not needed. The congestion creates tiny electrical fields that are fed with specific information through the software. The fields can be detected and analyzed via the power cable. In practice, the method, however, is unlikely to be used. Because to spy on the PC over the power network, there are two major disadvantages. On the one hand, you have to have direct access to as close a power grid as possible: if the attacker is in the same circuit as the PC, just 0.001 MBit is possible – just 0.000125 megabytes or 0.125 kilobytes per second. Even if the point of application is only at the first distribution box outside the building in which the PC is located, the data rate drops to 0.000001 Mbit, ie one thousandth of the previously mentioned value. The second pitfall: for espionage to work properly, a malicious software must first be installed on the target PC – if that succeeds, the PC would have already cracked in a figurative sense and could be spied much more easily than via the power grid method.

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