Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
Many years ago, when wireless keyboards were first introduced, large numbers of computer users followed the untethered trend into blissful, cordless ignorance.
But what if I told you that for just a couple bucks, I could see everything you type on your wireless keyboard?
The thing is most wireless keyboards work on an unencrypted radio frequency (including brands such as Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba), which means a criminal within a certain range would be able to pick up that frequency and intercept what you are typing.
If you work in a large office building, for example, a hacker could easily set up shop within 250 feet of you without being noticed. Or they could walk into the local coffee shop where everyone is using their computers in close proximity to one another and spy on anyone in the vicinity.
To compound the problem, radio frequencies aren’t traceable, which means if someone were intercepting your keystrokes, you wouldn’t even know about it.
You can see how easy it is for hackers to get ahold of your personal information.
But what can you do to protect yourself? Well, you need to invest in an encrypted wireless keyboard, of course.
The One Factor to Look For
The only wireless keyboards that are encrypted are those that use Bluetooth to connect to various devices. Bluetooth technology is standardized and has undergone extensive security testing, which makes it the obvious choice compared with a completely unsecure radio connection.
So unless you have a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard, anyone who wants to could purchase a radio device for as little as $12 that will intercept your signal and share every keystroke you make.
This includes secure logins, passwords, banking information, personal emails… literally anything you type on your keyboard. No matter what type of security you have on the computer itself, it won’t protect the information from being intercepted from the keyboard.
Since this type of hack only affects keyboards that operate on an unencrypted radio frequency, here are three Bluetooth-enabled wireless keyboards to consider purchasing:
- Kanex EasySync iPad Keyboard With Stand Cover — Don’t be fooled by the name. This compact wireless keyboard is designed to work with Apple, Android and Windows products as well as home media devices such as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire. The internal, rechargeable, lithium-ion battery lasts up to two months on a single charge. And the keyboard’s Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity means that your privacy is protected no matter where you use it.
- Logitech K380 Multidevice Bluetooth Keyboard — This lightweight wireless keyboard connects to all Bluetooth wireless devices that support external keyboards. It comes pre-installed with two AAA alkaline batteries that power the device for up to two years. One cool feature of this keyboard is that it allows you to connect to three devices simultaneously and switch between them with the simple touch of a button.
- Apple Magic Keyboard — If you’re looking for a quality wireless keyboard to connect to your iOS devices, the Magic Keyboard is worth the investment (although you can find refurbished ones on Amazon for much cheaper). It has a long-lasting, built-in rechargeable battery that will power your keyboard for about a month or more between charges. And of course, the Bluetooth connectivity ensures that no one can eavesdrop on your keystrokes.
As we continue to see the development of new wireless devices — from kitchen appliances to medical equipment — keep in mind these devices may not be entirely secure unless they use the Bluetooth standard encryption. (Even though wireless keyboards have been around for several years now, most people have no idea how vulnerable they are.)
Eventually, I imagine companies will move away from using a radio frequency connection and toward the more secure, encrypted Bluetooth technology. Until then, I recommend using a wired keyboard if you don’t have a wireless one that uses Bluetooth.
In other words, don’t cut the cord.