Menu
This PC monitor hack can manipulate pixels for malicious effect

This PC monitor hack can manipulate pixels for malicious effect

Researchers at DEF CON questioned the security of PC monitors' firmware

Don’t believe everything you see. It turns out even your computer monitor can be hacked.

On Friday, researchers at DEF CON presented a way to manipulate the tiny pixels found on a computer display.

Ang Cui and Jatin Kataria of Red Balloon Security were curious how Dell monitors worked and ended up reverse-engineering one.

They picked apart a Dell U2410 monitor and found that the display controller inside can be used to change and log the pixels across the screen.

During their DEF CON presentation, they showed how the hacked monitor could seemingly alter the details on a web page. In one example, they changed a PayPal’s account balance from $0 to $1 million, when in reality the pixels on the monitor had simply been reconfigured.

It wasn't exactly an easy hack to pull off. To discover the vulnerability, both Cui and Kataria spent their spare time over two years, conducting research and understanding the technology inside the Dell monitor.  

However, they also looked at monitors from other brands, including Samsung, Acer and Hewlett Packard, and noticed that it was theoretically possible to hack them in the same manner as well.

The key problem lies in the monitors’ firmware, or the software embedded inside. “There’s no security in the way they update their firmware, and it’s very open,” said Cui, who is also CEO of Red Balloon.

The exploit requires gaining access to the monitor itself, through the HDMI or USB port. Once done, the hack could potentially open the door for other malicious attacks, including ransomware.

For instance, cyber criminals could emblazon a permanent message on the display, and ask for payment to remove it, Kataria said. Or they could even spy on users' monitors, by logging the pixels generated.

However, the two researchers said they made their presentation to raise awareness about computer monitor security. They've posted the code to their research online. 

“Is monitor security important? I think it is,” Cui said. 

Dell couldn't be reached for immediate comment. 

Subscribe here for up-to-date channel news

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

Revealed at a glitzy bash in Sydney at the Ivy Penthouse, the first StorageCraft Partner Awards locally saw the vendor honour its top-performing partners with ASI Solutions, SMBiT Pro, Webroot, ACA Pacific and Soft Solutions New Zealand taking home the top awards. Photos by Maria Stefina.

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards
Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

​Synnex and Lenovo hosted 18 resellers for an action-packed weekend adventure in RotoVegas, taking in white water rafting on the Kaituna River, as well as quad biking and dinner at Stratosfare​, overlooking Lake Rotorua at the top of Mount Ngongotaha​. Photos by Synnex.

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip
Show Comments