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VAN ECK PHREAKING

Posted by Holger Urban

Big Brother is watching you – How to cancel out unwanted data-transmission

Have you ever heard of "Van Eck phreaking"? No? - In modern working environments a lot of devices emit signals which can be used to recreate and read out the data which should be kept secret. This process to read out the data is called "Van Eck phreaking" after the discoverer Mr. Wim van Eck.

The encryption of data does not help as these signals are directly emitted by e.g. a monitor where no encryption applies. This does not only apply to radiated signals, like RF signals introduced by a display, in addition this can apply to conducted emission on a power line. This is where Schaffner comes into the game, as expert in EMI and EMC we are able to provide the needed knowledge and background to keep listeners out of your system.

FN_700Z_High.pngPicture 1: Powerline Solution (FN 700Z)

 

Challenges

  • Consider the whole system / environment due to radiated and conducted emission

  • Very high frequencies need to be cancelled out from few kHz to over 1 GHz

  • High attenuation of 60 dB to 100 dB over complete frequency range

  • Applicable to all industry and office environments

The limits which makes your system safe are defined on the distance to the "audience". The
most severe one is the Level A with more or less immediate access (1 m distance), Level B
defines a distance of approx. 20m and Level C sets a distance of 1 Oüm free air or equivalent.

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Picture 2: high frequency attenuation for design-in

Taking this into account business environment of any kind can be classified to this approach
and can be certified to these levels. In any case the signal of the display can be detected
or the keystrokes on your keyboard can be read out. Just imagine the loss and threat if
someone outside your organization can read everything (like banking and financial
transactions) you can read on your display or type on your keyboard (e.g. your online banking
or online shopping account details).

Schaffner is able to support and offer solutions based on standard products and custom
specific approaches to limit this kind of espionage. Certification and test needs tobe done
with partnering and accredited test labs around the world.

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