Computer Screens Emit Sounds That Enable Eavesdropping

Today’s topics include security researchers’ discovery that most flat-panel computer screens emit sounds that reveal data, and BlackBerry has introduced a new version of the KEY2 smartphone with fewer features and a lower price.

Computer scientists from Tel Aviv University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan have discovered that flat-panel computer monitors emit faint sounds that allow remote parties to determine what’s displayed on the screens that are hidden from view.

The sounds are not easily detected by human hearing, but could be recorded without an eavesdropper being present onsite. The sounds could also be detected on recordings made months or even years before.

Using computers to interpret the sounds, eavesdroppers could tell what webpage you’re viewing and determine the text that is displayed. They could learn if you are filling out a form online and discover the personal information you are entering.

BlackBerry has introduced its $399 KEY2 LE smartphone that keeps some key features of its recent $649 KEY2 handset while cutting back in other areas.

The KEY2 LE will be produced and sold under an ongoing licensing agreement with China's TCL Communication, and was announced at the IFA Berlin show 2018 on Aug. 30.

The Android phone will go on sale in September in the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K. and Canada starting at $399 for a version with 32GB of internal storage or for $449 for a model with 64GB of internal storage. By comparison, prices for the high-end KEY2 started at $649 when it went on sale in June.

Featuring a 4.5-inch LCD touch-screen display and a Corning Gorilla Glass cover, the KEY2 LE uses a Qualcomm 636 processor and includes 4GB of memory, which are downgrades from the standard KEY2’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, 6GB of memory, and 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage.