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Researchers have devised a system that can recognize a user's keystrokes by exploiting available WiFi signals.
The research team, which is made up of computer scientists from Michigan State University and Nanjing University in China, explain in their paper that their "WiKey" system works because most WiFi devices (including routers) come with multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) capabilities.
"Each MIMO channel between each transmit-receive (TX-RX) antenna pair of a transmitter and receiver comprises of multiple sub-carriers. These WiFi devices continuously monitor the state of the wireless channel to effectively perform transmit power allocations and rate adaptations for each individual MIMOstream such that the available capacity of the wireless channel is maximally utilized...."
Overall, WiKey registered a 96.4 percent success rate in classifying single keystrokes. That accuracy fell slightly to 93.5 percent when researchers adjusted the experiment so that the subject typed keys in a continuous sentence.
That's not to say the system is without limitations. For the experiment, researchers set a number of controls, such as an environment with very little noise, a close device proximity of two meters between the router and the keyboard, and training requirements that spanned only over the course of one day and which required the subjects to not move their heads or other parts of their body. In the real world, everything is a lot more dynamic.
originally posted by: projectvxn
These are truly the weapons of the future.
I can only assume that most folks would be safe from such intrusions. You'd need a hell of a pair of antennas to read and interpret these signals, single them out of all other radio traffic in the area, as well as differentiate between one WIFI system and another. Which means a ton of equipment that wouldn't be very practical in clandestine surveillance.
As people move through a space with a Wi-Fi signal, their bodies affect it, absorbing some waves and reflecting others in various directions. By analyzing the exact ways a Wi-Fi signal is altered when a human moves through it, researchers can “see” what someone writes with their finger in the air, identify a particular person by the way they walk, and even read a person’s lips with startling accuracy—in some cases even if a router isn’t in the same room as the person performing the actions. Several recent experiments have focused on using Wi-Fi signals to identify people, either based on their body shape or the specific way they tend to move. Earlier this month, a group of computer-science researchers at Northwestern Polytechnical University in China posted a paper to an online archive of scientific research, detailing a system that can accurately identify humans as they walk through a door nine times out of 10. The system must first be trained: It has to learn individuals’ body shapes so it can identify them later. After memorizing body shapes, the system, which the researchers named FreeSense, watches for people walking across its line of sight. If it’s told the next passerby will be one of two people, the system can correctly identify which it is 95 percent of the time. If it’s choosing between six people, it identifies the right one 89 percent of the time.
Because all of these ideas piggyback on one of the most ubiquitous wireless signals, they’re ripe for wide distribution once they’re refined, without the need for any new or expensive equipment. Routers could soon keep kids and older adults safe, log daily activities, or make a smart home run more smoothly—but, if invaded by a malicious hacker, they could also be turned into incredibly sophisticated hubs for monitoring and surveillance.