Hackers Can Break Into Your PC Through Your Wireless Mouse for Less than $20

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Wireless mouse are vulnerable to hacks, according to a report from a cybersecurity startup. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

From public Wifis to smart gadgets, the list of hackable things seems infinite nowadays. But San Francisco-based cybersecurity researchers found even wireless mice—the innocuous must-have gadgets sidekicked to every computer—are vulnerable to hacks .

Two researchers at Bastille, a cybersecurity startup, discovered that the millions of wireless mice use unencrypted signals to connect with the computer . A hacker can build a tool for less than $20 using an antenna, a wireless chip called a dongle and some simple lines of code to trick the wireless chip connected to the target computer into accepting it as a mouse.

Once broken in, the hacker can use the dongle to pretend to be a keyboard. “This would be the same as if the attacker was sitting at your computer typing on the computer,” says Bastille’s Marc Newlin. “The attacker can send data to the dongle, pretend it's a mouse but say 'actually I am a keyboard and please type these letters.’”

The vulnerable wireless mice spans most of the major manufacturers of the product, from Logitech, Dell and Microsoft. But Bluetooth-enabled mice are not affected. The hackers can use the strength of the wireless signal of the mouse—which can be as far as 180 feet—to crack into the computer in less than a minute.

Bastille recommends installing any updates before continuing to use the affected mouse or keyboard, if the devices come with available firmware updates. But considering most major brand wireless mice companies do not have updates, the only hope is to simply stop using the wireless mice. “There is no mechanism to secure a vulnerable device short of unplugging the USB dongle from the computer,” reads the report on Bastille’s website.

Bastille founder Chris Rouland tells Reuters that the wireless mice vulnerability only shows that companies—no matter how encrypted they may be in their servers—are still open to hacks through the simplest means. "No one was looking at the air space,” says Rouland. “So I wanted to build this cyber x-ray vision to be able to see what was inside a corporation's air space versus what was just plugged into the wired network or what was on a Wifi hotspot.”