06Jun

doesn’t involve exploiting bugs or vulnerabilities in software. Instead, they found a way to do it by controlling a computer’s cooling fan.

Amazingly, they found hackers could encode stored data into fan vibrations by imperceptibly slowing down or speeding up the fan’s rotation. The fan causes the computer itself and the surface it’s on to vibrate and these vibrations can be picked up by a smartphone and then retrieved by a hacker.

“We observe that computers vibrate at a frequency correlated to the rotation speed of their internal fans,” lead researcher Mordechai Guri told Tech Xplore. “These inaudible vibrations affect the entire structure on which the computer is placed.”

“The malware in question doesn’t exfiltrate data by cracking encryption standards or breaking through a network firewall,” he said. “Instead, it encodes data in vibrations and transmits it to the accelerometer of a smartphone.”

While the process of transmitting the data is extremely slow, and therefore not likely to be adopted by hackers (spy services maybe?) it is yet another demonstration of how it is possible to access a computer that is air-gapped, meaning it is isolated and not connected to the internet.

Guri is head of R&D at the univerity’s Cyber-Security Research Center. He and his team specialize in finding ways to access data from highly secure systems and devising methods of protecting against the threats.

In the case of the fan vibration hack, a simple method of protecting against it is to make the fan speed unchangeable.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

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Soft Skills Are Almost As Important As Tech Prowess

Love ‘em or dread ‘em, Java and JavaScript skills are what employers are most often looking for when hiring software developers.

The same goes for C#, Python and SQL, according to an analysis Burning Glass did of tech job postings.

Dice.com, the tech careers site, took a deep dive into what skills employers most often list in their job descriptions and what they’re willing to pay to get the talent they want. Pulling together data from a variety of sources, Dice notes that while the term “software developer” covers a lot of territory, the five programming languages are the ones most frequently included in job postings.

Fortunately, a Stack Overflow survey found a high percentage of developers regularly use JavaScript, SQL, Python, C# and Java. In fact, almost 70% of professional developers said they most commonly used JavaScript in their work. More, though, told Stack OverFlow they loved Python; fewer dread it.

Regardless of the technical skills, Dice tells us that Burning Glass found employers also want their hires to be good communicators, collaborators, problem solvers and troubleshooters. The other “soft skills” that most frequently show up in job posts are creativity, planning and writing.

Dice points out that, “It’s one thing to code an awesome app; you also need to express your needs and wants to your team members, your manager, and even senior management.”

“Your ‘soft skills’… ultimately matter as much as your technical and coding skills, especially if you aspire to become a team leader or even run a company at some point.”

Employers may be asking for a lot, but they are willing to pay well to get the right people. Right out of school with no experience, starting pay ranges from a low of $66,000 to as much as $99,000. The top end goes to developers with specialized and high demand skills. And, though there are jobs that don’t require a degree, 88.9% of job ads ask for a bachelor’s degree.

With the demand for software developers growing every year and not enough developers to fill all the jobs, it’s taking employers an average of 40 days to hire. And that was before COVID-19 slowed everything up.

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