Soft Tempest: Hidden Data Transmission Using Electromagnetic Emanations

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Abstract

It is well known that eavesdroppers can reconstruct video screen content from radio frequency emanations. We discuss techniques that enable the software on a computer to control the electromagnetic radiation it transmits. This can be used for both attack and defence. To attack a system, malicious code can encode stolen information in the machine’s RF emissions and optimise them for some combination of reception range, receiver cost and covertness. To defend a system, a trusted screen driver can display sensitive information using fonts which minimise the energy of these emissions. There is also an interesting potential application to software copyright protection.