Next time someone brings a falafel sandwich into your house, be extra vigilant. Security researchers in Israel pulled off what was previously believed to be a sophisticated hacking technique with a device so small it could fit inside a pita.
The device, known as the Portable Instrument for Trace Acquisition – or PITA (what good is a cool piece of spy tech if it doesn’t come with a clever acronym), captures radio emissions given off by laptops, which can reveal, amongst other things, keys used to decrypt messages on the computers. “Before now, grabbing the radio signals was thought to require expensive, bulky equipment,” reported the BBC. “But the four-strong team managed it with cheap components small enough to conceal inside a piece of pocket bread.”
The PITA hacking device does have its limitations: It was only shown to work within a range of about 20 inches – a weakness that left at least one security expert unimpressed. “Any device close to a computer can pick up RF signals – put your phone close to the car radio and listen to it chatting,” Steve Armstrong, managing director of Logically Secure, told The Register. “The key thing of this attack will be the required proximity. If they can do it at 10 metres in a different room, I would be impressed.”
Still, I think it’s safe to say that if you see any unauthorized sandwiches within a couple feet of your computer, you probably want to change all your passwords.