padlock keyboard

File this under "oh no!" if you're a card-carrying ACLU member or "oh goody!" if you find yourself in the cult of Mitnick. Researchers at UC Berkeley claim they can just listen to keyboard taps and piece together a 96% accurate reconstruction of English words typed — and 90% of all randomly generated five-character passwords within 20 tries. The techniques used are "relatively easy" using a $10 PC microphone, open source spelling and grammar correction tools, and some custom code written by the researchers which will almost certainly end up on a torrent soon. This all works 'cause like a congo drum, keys slapped at different points along the plate under the keyboard emit different tones. Apply a little statistical learning theory and voila, your dirty little secrets are revealed.

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Researchers transcribe the sound of key clicks into text with 96% accuracy