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[FYI] Electronic eavesdropping is becoming mere child's play


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New-wave spies  

Electronic eavesdropping is becoming mere child's play  

SOFTWARE that allows a computer to receive radio signals could make 
spying on other computers all too simple, according to two scientists 
at the University of Cambridge. Such are the dangers that they are 
patenting countermeasures that computer manufacturers can take to 
foil any electronic eavesdroppers.  

Spies can already read documents written on computers by intercepting 
the radio-frequency emissions from their electronics, but the tuning 
and antenna equipment needed to do this is not available off-the-
shelf and is very expensive. But a new breed of "software radio", 
designed to let computers tune in to radio signals in any waveband, 
promises to make this type of eavesdropping simple and cheap. A PC 
circuit board with a plug-in aerial does all the tuning under 
software control and has a digital signal processor chip to cut 

"Equipment to do this [spying] would now cost at least 30 000, but 
in five years it will cost less than 1000, and it's hackers who will 
be writing the software," predicts Markus Kuhn, a research student 
who has filed the patent with Cambridge cryptographic expert Ross 
Anderson (see interview this issue, p 48).  


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