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Are wireless keyboards a security risk?

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Posted

I use a wireless keyboard at work and think it's pretty cool. I was thinking of getting one for my desktop computer at home, but my friend was telling me that they're a security risk because since they're wireless, someone can hack into your keyboard and can know what you're typing. So if you type something personal like a CC# or SS#, then they can obtain that information.

Is this true? Is it unsafe for me to buy a wireless keyboard for my computer at home?

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Posted

Your friend is talking about a keylogger. It has no bearing on whether the keyboard is wireless or wired, if you have a keylogger on your computer then the third-party (whoever put it there) will be able to look at all the keystrokes you've made, from personal emails to posts on forums to credit card details entered.

If you want a wireless keyboard, get a wireless keyboard.

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Posted

The keyboard has to be paired with devices; it won't just let any old device connect to it.

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Posted

Well, the NSA probably can. ;)

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Posted

Wireless keyboard signals can technically be intercepted. Most decent ones should have an option to encrypt the connection, though. The Logitech one I used to have did.

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Posted

The keyboard has to be paired with devices; it won't just let any old device connect to it.

the first gens of wireless didn't use encryption and just broadcast keystrokes...... but then even with pairing and key exchanges... you could in theory still crack it by snooping the exchanged key and then listening in... people have "hacked" wireless keyboards before...

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Posted

not unless you are paranoid i would think not, however, if you are having a security problem that severe you probably also would have keyloggers and things on your computer

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Posted

What keyboard do they use? Good Logitech or Microsoft ones would be fine but if they're some cheap chinese knock off then I would get a little weary. Logitech or Microsoft have enc. on thiers.

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Posted

Wireless keyboard signals can technically be intercepted. Most decent ones should have an option to encrypt the connection, though. The Logitech one I used to have did.

What happened to yours?

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Posted

Well, early wireless keyboards were fairly poorly designed (http://www.blackhat....08-moser-WP.pdf) but newer ones use properly done encryption and I have not seen any recent attacks against them. Wireless keyboards are also very short range.

This is what I was thinking: unless the person trying to hack it is in the next room or something, you're probably fine.

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Posted

What happened to yours?

It was one of those DiNovo slimline ones. Very nice, but it didn't stand up to MMOs and Neowin for very long. :) Mouse still works great, though.

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Posted

bluetooth are encrypted by default. many of the brands have encryption on their wifi versions. I would say you are pretty safe with a current wireless suite. Some people are just hung up on security when they don't understand or don't know.

FWIW, bluetooth have a range of about 30 feet. Wifi about 50 but can go to about 100 feet depending on obstructions and quality of the gear.

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Posted

When it comes down to it how paranoid do you want to get as in reality just turning on your PC is a security risk?

You need to weight the risk against the advantages and in this case the risk is extremely small much less than say giving your bank or credit card details over the phone.

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Posted

I'd be more worried about your internet connection giving away those details than a wireless keyboard ;)

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Posted

Thanks guys. I went ahead and bought the Logitech K360 keyboard. :)

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Posted

Cool. Let us know how it is for yah

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Posted

Personally,

I can't stand wireless keyboards OR mice, but as already stated, the range of them is next to nothing, so, unless some one is setting right next to you, no worries.

I see you already got one though. Enjoy!! :)

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Posted

Personally,

I can't stand wireless keyboards OR mice, but as already stated, the range of them is next to nothing, so, unless some one is setting right next to you, no worries.

I see you already got one though. Enjoy!! :)

I never really thought much about them until I started using them at work. They're pretty cool. The only thing that bugs me is the changing of batteries, but Logitech claims that the mouse (M510) and keyboard (K360) should last 2 years and 3 years, respectively, without battery changing. We shall see.

My Logitech wireless mouse at work (MK320 combo) is supposed to have a 1 year life before changing batteries, but I only had it for two months and already, the low battery indicator is blinking. But then again, I work almost 12 hours a day, so I didn't expect the battery to last too long, lol.

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Posted

DaDude, welcome to the wireless input world haha. I have the same mouse but paired with a K800 wireless backlit keyboard and they don't last as long as 6 months unless you're barely touching the devices. I'd say the M510 lasted me about 5 months from the last time I changed the batteries (Energizers, that bunny still kept pounding the mouse til the red light one day got the best of it) and I have no complaints seeing as how I had a mouse from them from my EX110 set back then not lasting more than a month. My K800 is used fairly often with auto-brightness (not set using the Fn+F5/F6 option) and I'd type maybe 4 hours conservatively and it'll last 3 months until I REALLY need to plug it in to charge.

Logitech I KNOW does encrypt keystrokes and while it is technically possible to hack anything (WPA2 is no shining star exception either, just harder to break), it would take some real close range effort to get a significant amount of packets to break in. Microsoft has some neat sets as well from what I see and they also do encryption.

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Posted

I only use wired for this exact reason. I bought a wireless keyboard/mouse combo some time ago and did a test in terms of range. The signal being transmitted was strong enough that the keyboard/mouse would still work outside my house, even from the footpath (10 metres plus). I did some further research and also found that the data being sent (on this particular model) was unencrypted! With the right equipment (programmable Bluetooth dongle/DSO with serial decoding) it would be quite easy for someone to decode the data, because it all complies with serial data standards. I wonder what would happen if my neighbour bought the same hardware.

If you

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Posted

I only use wired for this exact reason. I bought a wireless keyboard/mouse combo some time ago and did a test in terms of range. The signal being transmitted was strong enough that the keyboard/mouse would still work outside my house, even from the footpath (10 metres plus). I did some further research and also found that the data being sent (on this particular model) was unencrypted! With the right equipment (programmable Bluetooth dongle/DSO with serial decoding) it would be quite easy for someone to decode the data, because it all complies with serial data standards. I wonder what would happen if my neighbour bought the same hardware.

If you

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Posted

Unless there's a cat around, then your fine.

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Posted

I never really thought much about them until I started using them at work. They're pretty cool. The only thing that bugs me is the changing of batteries, but Logitech claims that the mouse (M510) and keyboard (K360) should last 2 years and 3 years, respectively, without battery changing. We shall see.

My Logitech wireless mouse at work (MK320 combo) is supposed to have a 1 year life before changing batteries, but I only had it for two months and already, the low battery indicator is blinking. But then again, I work almost 12 hours a day, so I didn't expect the battery to last too long, lol.

That length of battery time is usually pretty accurate for a Logitch product. I've had the K520 and M310 keyboard and mouse combo for a couple years now and haven't had to change the batteries once yet

my guess with your mouse at work is that the supplied batteries may have been partially drained already (it can happen if they're sitting unused long enough)

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Posted

My M305 mouse battery lasts for about 2-3 months. My K250 keyboard, maybe twice a year?

But it all depends on what battery you use in it. I see that alkeline batteries work better than others.

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