Keyboard Hardlines

A few years ago, I had a keyboard die. At the time, I needed something quickly and ended up with a Logitech wireless model that included a mouse. I’m not sure of which model, but I’ve ended up getting two or three more Logitech devices over the years. I think I go through a keyboard every 18-24 months, though the mice seem to last longer. For me, having devices available without cords is more important for the mouse than the keyboard, but since Logitech will bundle them, I get both at the same time. I’m currently with a K350 keyboard and an M510 mouse, both of which seem to hold up well.

However, I’m at home, usually working alone, so I haven’t been concerned much about security. In corporate environments, I remember playing jokes by moving someone’s mouse to my desk, and giving them a disconnected replacement, trying to mimic their movement. Or doing the same with a keyboard. That’s a great typing challenge if you ever try it.

I thought about those times when I read this piece on the security of wireless keyboards, or maybe the lack of security. Apparently a relatively simple device can intercept and replace, or just record, keystrokes made on a variety of keyboards. These devices use their own dongles, not a Bluetooth connection, and security is non-existent. Perhaps I’ll take one to the Redgate office this fall and see who’s actually vulnerable.

Actually, I think this is an issue, especially in large companies that may regularly hire consultants. Who knows what temporary workers might do with information they can gather by just sitting in proximity to a domain administrator. Or a DBA. We might be disclosing passwords to all our systems. Even malicious insiders may end up with access they shouldn’t have, including the ability to run queries or commands under another individual’s account.

Since keyloggers are cheap and simple, perhaps this seems like an unwarranted concern. However making the move to actually touch someone else’s machine, and add a device that could be noticed is much more dangerous than just sitting, or even standing with a tablet, by someone’s workspace. Even a simple conversation, asking an admin to look up information could result in a breach of security.

Fortunately this hack targets a few devices, and doesn’t work against Bluetooth devices. However, there are attacks against those, and against wireless access. I know some environments have very sensitive information, or even tight security regulation. I really hope we don’t find our administrators going back to hardlines for administrative access from specific machines, or even only using secured wired because we can’t strong wireless security for our devices.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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2 Responses to Keyboard Hardlines

  1. I’ve been using a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard the last year or so. However, my mouse is still wireless. I love the keyboard as it lets me connect to 3 devices – use it for my work laptop, personal laptop, and macbook. Oh, and BTW hackers need to get a life!


    • way0utwest says:

      A keyboard for multiple devices is great. I have a small portable one I use for 2 different laptops and it’s nice to be able to have this closer to me than the screen. It’s also lightweight for one of my machines, which is a Z Canvas and I don’t carry the OEM keyboard.


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