With technology advancing at an exponential rate, unfortunately, so does the threat landscape. When VALKYRIE (GB) LIMITED conduct TSCM inspections, one of the routine checks we carry out is on ‘standard cables’ such as mobile/iPhone and network cables. Most of us have several of these cables for ease of access/use and they are generally left plugged into a computer or a power supply and never given a second glance in a home, office, car, or plane. However, cables are vulnerable, readily available online, and quickly swapped out and manipulated.
Cables can either act as a microphone or be used as a WiFi-enabled device allowing malicious attackers to connect to the cable if they are in range and run commands on your computer as if they were sitting in front of the screen. A simple way to combat this threat in addition to a visual/physical check is to purchase a basic cable tester. This is a cost-effective way for us to conduct rudimentary checks to ensure the cables are legitimate. The device connects to the charging cable to check whether it draws any power. Suppose a cable has been manipulated for eavesdropping purposes. In that case, it will draw power from the power bank due to the malicious part of the cable (embedded microphone, Wi-Fi-adaptor) becoming activated.
Routinely checking cables is a simple and proactive check we can all do, and we regularly brief and highlight this to clients and our employees. We also include a cable tester in our ‘travel kits’, which we supply to clients, allowing them/team to use when travelling when the threat increases operating in an unchecked area such as hotels. Yes, checking cables isn’t going to mitigate the overall eavesdropping threat but it’s a simple check we can all do as part of our personal security procedure.
Valkyrie is always keen on raising awareness about the threats out there, and our Director of Cyber Security and Electronic Counter Measures, Gurpreet Thathy, has made a short video showing the malicious cable and the cable tester kit. We hope everyone finds it useful, and if you need more information about threats, travel kits and our services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.