Brightness: Leaking sensitive data from air-gapped workstations via screen brightness

Mordechai Guri, Dima Bykhovsky, Yuval Elovici

2019 12th CMI Conference on Cybersecurity and Privacy (CMI), 1-6, 2019

Air-gapped computers are systems that are kept isolated from the Internet since they store or process sensitive information. In this paper, we introduce an optical covert channel in which an attacker can leak (or, exfiltlrate) sensitive information from air-gapped computers through manipulations on the screen brightness. This covert channel is invisible and it works even while the user is working on the computer. Malware on a compromised computer can obtain sensitive data (e.g., files, images, encryption keys and passwords), and modulate it within the screen brightness, invisible to users. The small changes in the brightness are invisible to humans but can be recovered from video streams taken by cameras such as a local security camera, smartphone camera or a webcam. We present related work and discuss the technical and scientific background of this covert channel. We examined the channel’s boundaries …