University of California, Berkeley researchers claim that sounds from typing on computer keyboards are distinctive enough to be decoded, allowing security breaches caused by “acoustic snooping.”
The scientists fed sound recordings of typing on keyboards into a computer and use an algorithm to recover up to 96% of the keyboard characters.
The research builds on earlier work by IBM researchers who were able to recover 80 percent of text from keyboard recordings. But the Berkeley algorithm adapts to typing patterns of multiple typists and overcomes background noise such as music or ringing cell-phones.
Computer security expert Peter Tippett said that the prospect of such spying should not concern businesses fretting over possible snooping by rivals. “There are all kinds of attacks like these but they are only relevant to top secret organizations.”