back to article Teapot backdoor probed by German telescope boffins

Just when you (may have) thought it was safe to log back onto your computer and do something private, German security boffins have come up with a new vulnerability. Being a security-aware type of person - and perhaps preferring a view - your monitor doubtless faces away from the window, meaning that evilly-inclined persons …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Thats Why I work Naked covered in whipped cream

    Whoo Hoo and they all laffed at me

    Paris... who else would be you PA when your covered in whipped cream

  2. Louis Cowan


    This is what it's going to come down to, isn't it :|

  3. Dogbyte

    Bad news for tinfoil hat wearers

    Then again they'd probably have the blinds closed...

  4. lIsRT
    Black Helicopters

    Blade Runner

    I suppose we discovered this was possible in 1982 (well, the concept if not the technology) - still, it's impressive they can extend it to eyeballs reflecting a screen image.

    How soon before this appears on the black helicopters?

    (and then satellites...)

  5. Dominic Kua
    Paris Hilton

    And now we know

    Why the true nerd works in a darkened cellar, with loud music to cover the distinctive notes of the keyboard.

    Remember, if you're in the only circle of light in a room, you've got grues for guards!

    Paris, because she too has mastered the use of curtains, though not how to avoid cameras.

  6. Jamie
    Paris Hilton


    You should always have the curtians drawn as you don't know when the urge to look at a certian video may hit.

  7. Tom

    RE: Bad news for tinfoil hat brigade

    It's ok, shiney side in still works doesn't it? not sure how this will impede on your gigawatt mind controll ray protection factor though...

  8. Anonymous from Mars

    @Thats Why I work Naked covered in whipped cream

    Best first comment ever.

    Although the whipped cream might cause a reflection!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't believe them

    I think they were looking at ladies undressing and made this shit up when the police caught them.

  10. Adrian Esdaile

    Beware Germans bearing telescopes!

    "$27,500 telescope 30m away"

    Right, so I should be suspicious of some shady character setting up a 15ft-long heavily-stabilized telescope across the road, pointing it straight at my window?

    No kidding, Einstein, can I have your job please?

  11. anarchic-teapot

    I may wear glasses

    ..but the rest of me isn't reflective, and anyne coming near my backdoor is in for some serious grief.

  12. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Does this mean that any operators on really sensitive jobs

    will need to be of a non-reflective ethnicity?

  13. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Laser fair

    I foresee an optical exhibition in the windows of tinfoil hatted conspiratards everywhere.

    Quite looking forward to the shows on misty winter nights. Oh.. they will close the curtains...

    Don't tell 'em.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    (No Title)

    These days, may office buildings have half-silvered windows just to keep the heat down - then again, getting within 30m of your average office with a rather large telescope is not going to be easy, particularly if you want to see in one of the upper storeys!

    Nice report, Reg, but what would I give to make a living by doing such obvious research! Notice that it doesn't mention the ability to read printed documents via a reflection, or doing anything seriously clever like reading the EM fields from a distance...

  15. Stu

    @Adrian Esdaile

    Too right, I'm sure most people will notice a crew maneuvering a telescope and training it at them 10m - 30m away, especially seeing as it would be happening in their normal field of view. 30 metres is the main limiting factor here clearly.


    But what next though? A hi-res firewire digital camera telescope, with reflection tracking software for auto-surveillance? You can even get it to filter out the general surfing/document writing, and capture all the really juicy tidbits.

    Just remember to put it behind that special glass the cops use for identity parades, and keep the lights off, eh?

  16. Ru
    Black Helicopters

    "seriously clever"

    But why spend all that time and effort on seriously complicated things, when a far simpler and more reliable solution can be easily shown to do the job just fine?

    There's no mention of how large the telescopes should be, by the way. Only their price, and high quality optics can be extremely expensive regardless of their size. Also consider that even moderately large telescopes can still be concealed in vans and cars and so on without any particular difficulty.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Reading the EM fields from a distance"

    Indeed, hence TEMPEST monitors, Farady cages, and the like. Allegedly there's enough RF emissions from the scan coils and electron beam of a classical CRT to allow it to be read, and a picture reconstructed, by suitably equipped operatives tens of meters away.

    How does all that TEMPEST stuff work in the era of LCD monitors with minimal emissions, and plasma TVs with huge (but incoherent?) emissions?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We know what they are really looking for

    Or maybe even:

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But eventually the returns for these kind of methods start to drop, I have to trust my ISP hasn't altered my download of firefox to change the security certificates or combine that with man in the middle attack.

    Any keyboard could have a keylogger installed inside it, not just on the cable, my router might have been swapped and flashed with a custom firmware. When somebody can't get a password to work they just reset the device and blame themselves for forgetting it so most items can be swapped out.

    Or if it doesn't matter if somebody knows they are being watched, break in and club them over the head until they give you the information.

  20. Matthew


    ...has been on the internet for as long as people take photos while naked. A similar vulnerability, but well worth a Google for comedy value.

  21. ImaGnuber

    That's it then...

    ....I'm not going to bother reflecting on anything anymore - straight to thoughtless action from now on.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    The latest must have hi-tech security equipment

    German eggheads spend $27, 500.

    I spend £5.95.

    Teutonic stickybeaking averted & my brew's still hot!

  23. Funky Dennis
    Black Helicopters

    Has anybody

    read a book called Supernature : a natural history of the supernatural? (c1973)

    It mentions people with vision so acute that they can read text off other people's eyeballs. At least, I think it's that book. Anybody care to confirm/refute? A fantastic book at any rate.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Hardly breaking news, CSI-Crime Scene Investigation frequently manage to get infinitely high res images off anything from camera phones (found on a beach) to reflections off your eyeball (lids closed of course). ;-)

    Paris, cos she is well aware of unusual camera angles

  25. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Jeepers Creepers

    I'm worried about the M$ guy with the considerable forehead. You could read a reflected 10pt Word document from the next galaxy off that thing without a telescope. Lucky for him I read yesterday that he is also a "fast-moving object" when the Hungarians take out their lunch.

  26. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Down

    first they came for the amateur astronomers...

    next up, California to ban telescopes because welfare recipients are afraid their details will be visually hacked while being entered into Government databases...

    Wasn't Galileo ordered by the Authorities of the Day to keep his telescope below a certain inclination to keep him from observing the sky? Soon we'll see laws against having telescopes decline *below* a certain range. CA approved telescopes will have mandatory lockouts and bang-stops to keep telescopes from being used in ways that could offend people. Collapsible telescopes will be banned outright, scopes that are too large will be allowed only by licensed Thought Enforcement Personnel (good leftists academicians) and scopes too small will be considered "useless" and "only used by criminals who want to conceal a hacking device" and will be banned under a new Democrat-supported "Assault Optics Ban".

    "When telescopes are outlawed, only outlaws will have telescopes!" I'm starting a preemptive strike-an organization called the National Optical Association. Since Heston is no longer with us, we'll offer the leadership to Ahnold-he'll be needing a job soon...and if you saw Heston in "Soylent Green" you'll notice that as younger men they had more than a passing semblence in jawline, acting style, and mannerisms....

  27. Anonymous John

    Russell's teapot.

    For a moment there, I thought you were going to tell they'd found it.

  28. Anonymous Coward


    Great rant! I guess your tinfoil must have slipped for a few moments there.

    Mine's the one with everyone going through the pockets.

  29. Andy Bright

    How much?

    hmm.. spending $2700 to rip credit card details to buy a $2000 big tv? Anyone else wonder at the improbable investment required and whether just not spending the money on an expensive telescope might be a much safer way of buying what you want off the internet?

    Ok, industrial espionage then? I've found that telescopes would normally attract attention, especially when planted only 30 ft away from your victim. Sure the 90 ft away crowd might be able to peer in through tinted windows, but telescopes are particularly funny about stuff like that.

    Anyway I reckon that most info hijackers usually employ the following devious techniques to hack into someone's account, employing Q-style cunning and intellect.

    1 - Phone up and ask for the user's username and password.

    2 - Walk in and copy the username and password from the postit stuck on the monitor.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    "30m away, as though across a street"

    That would be: exactly like across the street, then.

    Logic! Logic! What logic? Nobody said you had to be logical to be a journalist.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I suspect a conspiracy to increase sales of telescopes, bought mine on a whim and used it twice (like the wife said i would - damm her being right again)

    So anyone need a state of the art spy telescope ?

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