Versasec - Hacked Through Keyboard Sounds

Password-based Systems Might be Hacked through Keyboard Sounds

Date: 2019-09-03
Author: Adam Bostwick, Business Development

Hacked through Keyboard Sounds

Listen up! In yet another study showing the flaws in password-based computer security systems, the Southern Methodist University in Texas is reporting that it’s possible to guess a person’s password simply by listening to the sounds made by keyboard keys as they are pressed.

It seems each key makes a different sound – perhaps too subtle for most human ears to discern, but not too subtle for smartphones and other devices capable of “listening.” The study showed that phones pick up on the acoustic signals and the differences made by various keys.In their study, the researchers set up eight phones and placed them near the computer keyboard – from just inches away to several feet away. The study showed that the accuracy of determining what was being typed through the filter of the phone was as high as 41 percent.

While the accuracy number is not staggeringly high, the concern is that with many people still using very generic passwords hacking systems designed to decipher computer keyboard clicks the accuracy rate of grabbing overly simple passwords could be higher.

So what can we do? The remedies include using two-factor authentication, preferably with one of them having no potential audio element (such as a dongle or smartcard) or having one of the passwords auto-filled from a secure browser plug-in so there are no keyboard clicks.

With most of us filling our homes with devices that can “listen” to us – think Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and more – protecting against potential hacks of whatever we are typing (not just passwords) will be near impossible. We’ve asked this question before – has convenience made us reckless with our security? For most of us, the answer is probably yes. But there are some simple steps, including two-factor authentication, that can certainly help keep our data more secure.


Our product suite provides all the software tools to administrate and manage credentials in a secure and convenient way.

Start here

Free Product Trial

Versasec provides enabling IT security products centered on the usage of security devices such as smart cards. Our solutions enable customers to securely authenticate, issue and manage user credentials more cost effectively. Get a free product trial.

Job Openings

We are always looking for new exceptional persons to join our team! Find out more about our job openings.

Versasec Support

Versasec customers with an existing support and maintenance contract can access the Versasec Support Portal, offering extensive professional support and maintenance services. The Versasec Support Portal offers a variety of services, allowing for customers and any site visitor to communicate directly with support engineers.

Contact Support

Company Blog

Our blog addresses the latest security trends and stories. The posts discuss how identity and access management are playing a larger role in keeping corporate data safe as well as brand reputations intact.

Visit our Blog
Share this article
Middle East

Versasec AB
Road 18, Building #55, Sarayat El Maadi
Cairo 11728, Arab Republic of Egypt
[View on map]


Versasec AB
G Tower #16-08, 199 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
[View on map]


Versasec AB (R&D)
Fritz-Haber-Strasse 9
06217 Merseburg, Germany
[View on map]

Privacy Preference Center