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. 


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

In 2017, merger and acquisitions fever reached new heights in New Zealand, with a host of big name deals dominating the headlines. Reseller News recaps the most important transactions of the Kiwi channel during the past 12 months.

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017
Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

The channel in New Zealand came together to celebrate the close of 2017, as the final After Hours played out in front of a bumper Auckland crowd.

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP honoured leading partners across the channel at the Partner Awards 2017 in New Zealand, recognising excellence across the entire print and personal systems portfolio.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments