Usbee: Air-gap covert-channel via electromagnetic emission from usb Conference Paper uri icon


  • In recent years researchers have demonstrated how attackers could use USB connectors implanted with RF transmitters to exfiltrate data from secure, and even air-gapped, computers (e.g., COTTONMOUTH in the leaked NSA ANT catalog). Such methods require a hardware modification of the USB plug or device, in which a dedicated RF transmitter is embedded. In this paper we present `USBee,' a software that can utilize an unmodified USB device connected to a computer as a RF transmitter. We demonstrate how a software can intentionally generate controlled electromagnetic emissions from the data bus of a USB connector. We also show that the emitted RF signals can be controlled and modulated with arbitrary binary data. We implement a prototype of USBee, and discuss its design and implementation details including signal generation and modulation. We evaluate the transmitter by building a receiver and demodulator using GNU Radio. Our evaluation shows that USBee can be used for transmitting binary data to a nearby receiver at a bandwidth of 20 to 80 BPS (bytes per second).

publication date

  • December 12, 2016