Trust The Wire, They Always Told Me!: On Practical Non-Destructive Wire-Tap Attacks Against Ethernet

AuthorSchulz, Matthias; Klapper, Patrick; Hollick, Matthias; Tews, Erik
TypeConference Proceedings
AbstractEthernet technology dominates enterprise and home network installations and is present in datacenters as well as parts of the backbone of the Internet. Due to its wireline nature, Ethernet networks are often assumed to intrinsically protect the exchanged data against attacks carried out by eavesdroppers and malicious attackers that do not have physical access to network devices, patch panels and network outlets. In this work, we practically evaluate the possibility of wireless attacks against wired Ethernet installations with respect to resistance against eavesdropping by using off-the-shelf software-defined radio platforms. Our results clearly indicate that twisted-pair network cables radiate enough electromagnetic waves to reconstruct transmitted frames with negligible bit error rates, even when the cables are not damaged at all. Since this allows an attacker to stay undetected, it urges the need for link layer encryption or physical layer security to protect confidentiality.
InProceedings of the 9th ACM Conference on Security & Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks (WiSec 2016), p.43-48