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LUMISTAR INFRARED IMAGING NEWS

By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

June 15, 2015

Thermal Camera Observes Computer Hack Using Heat

Highly secure computer systems, referred to as “air-gapped systems”, are not connected to the internet or connected to other systems connected to the internet so their data can’t be hacked and stolen. These systems are used in military complexes, payment systems, or systems that control critical infrastructure, to name a few examples. But investigators have found a new way to hack into these systems — using heat. Researchers are also using thermal infrared cameras to observe the process (see above video). By having an infected computer that is connected to internet placed near the non-internet connected computer, for example, a laptop that goes home with a worker and returns to the office placing it near the air-gapped classified system, the internet hacker manipulates the laptop’s temperature in a pattern creating 0’s and 1’s communicating to the air-gapped system via it’s thermal sensor that is normally used for its cooling fan. At present time, the rate of information exchanged via heat signals back and forth is slow but information such as password transmission has been demonstrated. Researchers are determining if internet connected air conditioning systems can also communicate with these offline classified computers sometime in the future as this method develops.

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