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CAPEC-699: Eavesdropping on a Monitor

Attack Pattern ID: 699
Abstraction: Meta
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+ Description
An Adversary can eavesdrop on the content of an external monitor through the air without modifying any cable or installing software, just capturing this signal emitted by the cable or video port, with this the attacker will be able to impact the confidentiality of the data without being detected by traditional security tools
+ Extended Description

This attack gives the adversary the ability to view an external monitor with an insignificant delay. There is also no indicator of compromise from the victim visible on the monitor.

The eavesdrop is possible due to a signal leakage, that is produced at different points of the connection, including the source port, the connection between the cable and PC, the cable itself, and the connection between the cable and the monitor. That signal leakage can be captured near any of the leak points, but also in a near location, like the next room or a few meters away, using an SDR (Software-defined Radio) device and the correspondent software, that process and interpret the signal to show attackers what the monitor is displaying.

From the victim’s point of view, this specified attack might cause a high risk, and from the other hand, from the attacker’s point of view, the attack is excellent, since the specified attack method can be used without investing too much effort or require too many skills, as long as the right attack tool is in right place, this allows attackers to completely compromise the confidentiality of the data; also giving the attacker the advantage of being undetectable by not only traditional security products but also from bug sweep because the SDR device is acting in passive mode.

+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity


+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.651Eavesdropping
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. Survey Target: The adversary surveys the target location, looking for exposed display cables and locations to hide an SDR. This also includes looking for display cables or monitors placed close to a wall, where the SDR can be in range while behind the wall. The adversary also attempts to discover the resolution and refresh rate of the targeted display.

  1. Find target using SDR: The adversary sets up an SDR near the target display cable or monitor. They use the SDR software to locate the corresponding frequency of the display cable. This is done by looking for interference peaks that change depending on what the screen is showing. The adversary notes down the possible frequencies of unintentional emission.

    An adversary can make use of many different commercially available SDR devices which are easy to setup such as a HackRF, Ubertooth, RTL-SDR, and many others.
  1. Visualize Monitor Image: Once the SDR software has been used to identify the target, the adversary will record the transmissions and visualize the monitor image using these transmissions, which allows them to eavesdrop on the information visible on the monitor.

    The TempestSDR software can be used in conjunction an SDR device to visualize the monitor image. The adversary will specify the known monitor resolution and refresh rate, or if those are not known they can use the provided auto-correlation graphs to help predict these values. The adversary will then try the different frequencies recorded from the experiment phase, looking for a viewing monitor display. Low pass filters and gain can be manipulated to make the display image clearer.
+ Prerequisites
Victim should use an external monitor device
Physical access to the target location and devices
+ Skills Required
[Level: Medium]
Knowledge of how to use the SDR and related software: With this knowledge, the adversary will find the correct frequency where the signal is being leaked
[Level: Low]
Understanding of computing hardware, to identify the video cable and video ports
+ Resources Required
SDR device set with the correspondent antenna
Computer with SDR Software
+ Indicators
The target will not observe any indicators of the attack from the computer user’s perspective. The only indication of this attack would be a visible SDR with antenna that can be seen in close proximity to a display cable which is not normally present. This requires that the target is aware of what SDRs look like and can recognize that it may be out of place.
+ Consequences
Section HelpThis table specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Read Data
+ Mitigations
Enhance: Increase the number of electromagnetic shield layers in the display ports and cables to contain or reduce the intensity of the leaked signal.
Implement: Use a protocol that encrypts the video signal; in case the signal is intercepted the signal is protected by the encryption.
Design: Lock away the video cables, making it difficult for the attacker to access the cables and place the antenna near them (If the distance condition between the antenna and display port/cable is not satisfied, the attack will not be possible).
Implement: Use wireless technologies to connect to external display devices.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Section HelpCAPEC mappings to ATT&CK techniques leverage an inheritance model to streamline and minimize direct CAPEC/ATT&CK mappings. Inheritance of a mapping is indicated by text stating that the parent CAPEC has relevant ATT&CK mappings. Note that the ATT&CK Enterprise Framework does not use an inheritance model as part of the mapping to CAPEC.
Relevant to the ATT&CK taxonomy mapping (see parent )
+ References
[REF-744] "TempestSDR: An SDR Tool For Eavesdropping on Computer Screens Via Unintentionally Radiated RF". <>. URL validated: 2022-12-07.
[REF-745] Dan Maloney. "Exposing Computer Monitor Side-Channel Vulnerabilities with TempestSDR". <>. URL validated: 2022-12-07.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(Version 3.9)
You Wu (吴忧), Miguel Ivan Fernandez (伊万), Qingzhe Jiang (蒋青喆)Lenovo
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: January 24, 2023