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Hackers disguise phone as keyboard, use it to attack PCs via USB

Michael Gorman, @Numeson
January 23, 2011
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We've seen hackers use keyboards to deliver malicious code to computers, and we've seen smartphones used as remote controls for cars and TV -- but we've never seen a smartphone disguised as a keyboard used to control a computer, until now. A couple folks at this year's Black Hat DC conference have devised a clever bit of code that allows a rooted smartphone -- connected to a PC through USB -- to pose as a keyboard or mouse in order to attack and control the computer. The hack takes advantage of USB's inability to authenticate connected devices coupled with operating systems' inability to filter USB packets, which would enable users to thwart such an attack. While utilizing a digital costume to hack a computer is a nifty idea, it doesn't pose much additional risk to users because the method still requires physical access to a USB port to work -- and most of us would probably notice someone plugging a smartphone into our laptop while we're using it.

[Image Credit: Angelos Stavrou / CNET]



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