Cybersecurity Insight

Air-Gapped Systems: The Impenetrable Become Penetrable

6 Jul

Air-gapped systems are utilized by military and financial institutions around the world for their secure and practically impenetrable states – they utilize what is known as an air wall, meaning the network in question is not connected to the Internet or any other outside systems, so that the data is as secure as possible. Because these networks are not connected to the Internet, hackers have to be physically close to the systems in order to infiltrate and steal these guarded secrets. What is the latest attack used by hackers to garner this information, and are there any truly secure networks?

Over the past two years, a group of researchers in Israel have come close to perfecting attacks on air-gapped systems. It’s not just close proximity that is needed for hackers to infiltrate these networks – first the system in question needs to be infected with malware. Known as Fansmitter, this malware targets the speed of the fans in the computers – which are either the CPU, chassis, graphics card or power supply fans. By manipulating the speeds, hackers are able to communicate the binary ones and zeros that compose the data they want to steal by way of the sounds emitted from the controlled fans. Since it is a slower process, the amount of data stolen is in small increments but still vital to any company – anything from usernames, passwords, protected encryption keys, and more.

Obviously this is a time consuming process and requires an ability to be physically close to these networks; not impossible, but these institutions don’t make it easy. Hackers have answered with gusto and continued to come up with alternative attack methods – from utilizing radio or even electromagnetic waves, these attackers have gone above and beyond while organizations have faltered slightly behind when dealing with protecting these systems.

While the majority of private and public institutions won’t have to deal with an attack as sophisticated as the ones affecting air-gapped systems, they will have to deal with increasingly unique attacks. Ones that, unless you have an MSS/MSSP in your corner, will catch most businesses off-guard and unawares. Neovera makes it their mission to monitor for the latest threats on their client’s networks and keep themselves up-to-date on the latest news that affects any and all industries big and small. Neovera works 24x7x365 to keep themselves – and their clients – ahead of threats so that day-to-day business is uninterrupted.