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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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August 15, 2014

Thermal Cameras Catch Heat During Social Interactions


Using thermal imaging cameras, researchers at the University of St Andrews (St Andrews, UK) Perception Lab, have found that when heterosexual women interact socially with men, it causes a noticeable rise in the temperature of their faces. University scientists studied temperature changes in only women for this report.  The study was conducted to see if interpersonal social contact can elicit facial temperature changes as studies in the past dealt with other forms of emotional arousal such as fear and stress. Thermal responses were measured using a thermal imager with thermal sensitivity (NETD): less than 80 mK, 1 frame per 75 s. Object emissivity was set at 0.98, the standard value for skin. Infrared images were taken during a standardized interaction with a same- and opposite-sex experimenter using skin contact in a number of potentially high–intimate (face and chest) and low–intimate (arm and palm) locations. When peer-aged male laboratory agents touched heterosexual female participants on the face or chest the test subjects showed major (more than one degree Celsius) temperature responses on the face. What was surprising is that women’s facial temperature increased by one degree Celsius during any interaction with the male experimenter, using the thermal camera to record the observation. When other women laboratory agents did the tests on these same women subjects,  gender alone influenced the reaction of women, who showed no thermal response to interaction with other women.  Researchers hope to use this data to eventually develop a lie detector test for national security purposes. Studies show increases in temperature occur on the forehead when lying. “Thermal imaging offers new possibilities in the study of psychological responses to social interactions and is of particular interest in the context of mating signals.” Or maybe it will be used by social networks if infrared seeking cameras are incorporated into computing devices like your phone as a standard feature.

More information on the research can be found here.