'DiskFiltration' Gathers Data By Listening to Hard Drives

By: Joey Haar - Aug 15, 2016
References: arxiv.org & arstechnica
'DiskFiltration' is a malware technique developed by researchers from the cyber security labs at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. The system is able to wirelessly steal information from air-gapped computers -- i.e. computers that are completely isolated from any Internet, Bluetooth, or other wireless connection to other devices.

The 'DiskFiltration' system works through the manipulation of the only type of wireless emission that an air-gapped computer can't control: sound waves. When a hard drive's actuator reads or writes information on the disk, it makes minute noises. The DiskFiltration malware takes advantage of these noises, manipulating the hard drive's actuator to pass codes to a smartphone within six feet of the infected hard drive.

Granted, the DiskFiltration system won't work on a computer without the malware already installed, so a clean air-gapped computer is safe. Nonetheless, the technique could pose serious cyber security issues if it isn't addressed.