Home Engineering The dark side of technology
The only secure defence against electronic, Internet-connected hacking is not to be connected. Therefore in an industrial company (or national facility), an isolated stand-alone computer system is more secure than one that communicates to other computers of the same company. At first sight, this seems a perfect solution, but for many years it has been possible to record keyboard typing via sensors unconnected to the computer. Such sensors sitting in range of the computer controls will therefore broadcast passwords and input to a more distant receiver. These are familiar espionage units that have been used to record bank activities from outside of a building. Unless the system is in an electronically screened room, and powered with a truly isolating power unit (i.e. not just plugged into the mains supply), then computer isolation is not 100 per cent guaranteed.
An interesting approach was taken in the Kremlin where it was reported that some 50,000 euros were spent on electronic typewriters for truly important secure work. I assume these are only used in bug-free, screened rooms. The Kremlin is skilled in such activities; there was a report that they once built a foreign embassy with local workers, and managed to install excellent surveillance of the major foreign power, who thought they had saved money by using local labour.
Equally surprising was the disclosure that the president of the USA does not carry a mobile (cell) phone. The reasons were not specified, but intelligent guesses may be that it would be feasible to track his exact location at all times, intercept messages, or even use the phone covertly to listen in to conversations.
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