Israeli hackers hid spy equipment inside pitta bread

A team of Israeli security researchers have come up with technology that might get a rise out of the world's armed forces. They've demonstrated a tiny, cheap radio sniffer that has the ability to wirelessly crack encrypted data.

The device, which is small enough to fit inside a pitta bread, works by listening to the radio signals given off by your CPU when it's crunching data. Different activities, like playing a game or decrypting a file, have different patterns of radio output.

By monitoring the signals given off when the computer was decrypting an email message, it became possible to work out the encryption key being used. The technology, which has been named Portable Instrument for Trace Acquisition (or PITA for short, of course), works at a distance of about 50 centimetres.

Red bread redemption

While the team has demonstrated similar technology in the past, attacks required either a long capture time or an expensive setup. The benefit of PITA is that's it's cheap - you wouldn't need much dough to build one.

The researchers plan to present their work at a conference on cryptographic hardware in September, but have detailed the plans in an online paper in the meantime. The software vulnerability which made the attack possible has also since been closed, so at yeast you won't have to worry about that any longer.