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    AI researchers claim 93% accuracy in detecting keystrokes over Zoom audio / ArsTechnica · Monday, 7 August - 18:17 · 1 minute

Woman setting up a microphone right by her MacBook

Enlarge / Some people hate to hear other people's keyboards on video calls, but AI-backed side channel attackers? They say crank that gain. (credit: Getty Images)

By recording keystrokes and training a deep learning model, three researchers claim to have achieved upwards of 90 percent accuracy in interpreting remote keystrokes, based on the sound profiles of individual keys.

In their paper A Practical Deep Learning-Based Acoustic Side Channel Attack on Keyboards ( full PDF ), UK researchers Joshua Harrison, Ehsan Toreini, and Marhyam Mehrnezhad claim that the trio of ubiquitous machine learning, microphones, and video calls "present a greater threat to keyboards than ever." Laptops, in particular, are more susceptible to having their keyboard recorded in quieter public areas, like coffee shops, libraries, or offices, the paper notes. And most laptops have uniform, non-modular keyboards, with similar acoustic profiles across models.

Previous attempts at keylogging VoIP calls, without physical access to the subject, achieved 91.7 percent top-5 accuracy over Skype in 2017 and 74.3 percent accuracy in VoIP calls in 2018 . Combining the output of the keystroke interpretations with a "hidden Markov model" (HMM), which guesses at more-likely next-letter outcomes and could correct "hrllo" to "hello," saw one prior side channel study's accuracy jump from 72 to 95 percent—though that was an attack on dot-matrix printers . The Cornell researchers believe their paper is the first to make use of the recent sea change in neural network technology, including self-attention layers , to propagate an audio side channel attack.

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    Hackers can clone Google Titan 2FA keys using a side channel in NXP chips / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 12:59 · 1 minute

Hackers can clone Google Titan 2FA keys using a side channel in NXP chips

Enlarge (credit: Google)

There’s wide consensus among security experts that physical two-factor authentication keys provide the most effective protection against account takeovers. Research published today doesn’t change that, but it does show how malicious attackers with physical possession of a Google Titan key can clone it.

There are some steep hurdles to clear for an attack to be successful. A hacker would first have to steal a target’s account password and to also gain covert possession of the physical key for as many as 10 hours. The cloning also requires up to $12,000 worth of equipment, custom software, and an advanced background in electrical engineering and cryptography. That means the key cloning—were it ever to happen in the wild—would likely be done only by a nation-state pursuing its highest-value targets.

“Nevertheless, this work shows that the Google Titan Security Key (or other impacted products) would not avoid [an] unnoticed security breach by attackers willing to put enough effort into it,” researchers from security firm NinjaLab wrote in a research paper published Thursday. “Users that face such a threat should probably switch to other FIDO U2F hardware security keys, where no vulnerability has yet been discovered.”

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