Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Typewriter Keylogger

Kyle Mizokami (via Espionage News):

The NSA eventually shipped all of the electronics located at the embassy back to the U.S. for study. They struck gold: parts inside an IBM Selectric typewriter had been cleverly duplicated but rigged to transmit the typist’s keystrokes. The typewriter still worked, but it also quietly broadcast the keystrokes, using Soviet over-the-air TV signals as a form of electronic camouflage. It was in effect a non-digital form of the keylogging malware that hackers install on PCs.

Robert W. Lucky:

A solid aluminum bar, part of the structural support of the typewriter, had been replaced with one that looked identical but was hollow. Inside the cavity was a circuit board and six magnetometers. The magnetometers sensed movements of tiny magnets that had been embedded in the transposers that moved the typing “golf ball” into position for striking a given letter.

Other components of the typewriters, such as springs and screws, had been repurposed to deliver power to the hidden circuits and to act as antennas. Keystroke information was stored and sent in encrypted burst transmissions that hopped across multiple frequencies.


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