Windows Jingle Attack Exposed

August 10, 2008 – 7:46 AM

At the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, Eric Filiol, the head scientist at the French Army Signals Academy’s Virology and Cryptology Lab, explained how to steal data from a computer without a network connection.

Filiol demonstrated what he called the Windows Jingle Attack, a method for encoding a user’s password into audio data and concealing that data into the Windows startup tone, a publicly audible sound that can be read from afar with a local or remote microphone and then decoded.

Filiol’s work builds on what’s known as Tempest. Filiol said the term stands for Temporary Emanation and Spurious Transmission, though others suggest alternate terms to explain the acronym.

Tempest refers to research done by the NSA into the signals that emanate from electronic devices and how to prevent the interception of those signals. The reason is that those signals may reveal the information being processed by a device or may be altered to do so.

Programmer Eric Thiele has written a demonstration program called Tempest for Eliza that uses a computer monitor to send out AM radio signals.

The Windows Jingle Attack requires malware on the target machine, so in that respect it’s not as easy to execute as other attacks that allow remote code execution. Nonetheless, there are certain scenarios when being able to obtain data from a computer without a network connection would be valuable.


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