I got a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard, as it seems to be a small improvement over the much loved Ergo 4000. (What I'd give to have an Ergo 4000 with CheryMX Blues...)

On various sites, they have this one snippet:

Proprietary 2.4 GHz with 128 bit AES encryption

Anyone knows what this actually means? Does each keyboard/receiver pair have some pre-initialized key? During sync, is there some keyexchange but after that point, it's safe?

Or is using this wireless keyboard a constant security threat? I'm aware of TEMPEST and other attacks, but this is deliberately broadcasting my keystroke data. If the 128-bit AES stuff is just some weak global key like "MicrosoftHardware" then it shouldn't be hard for someone to pick it up.

Has anyone investigated the MS wireless keyboards that explicitly claim AES?

1 Answer 1


Here's a whitepaper from logitech on the technology. They seem to believe it is secure, and apparently the two devices are paired at the factory. The actual key never gets broadcast. It has a short range of about 33 feet.

It certainly isn't 100%, but if you're worried about the NSA... I doubt this is your biggest problem. A regular keyboard is most likely more secure, but even that isn't protected from TEMPEST attacks, and implanting a physical or even a software keylogger is a rather trivial task in either case.

Not to mention your phone... that probably has gps, bluetooth, microphone, video etc... I'm just sayin, your wireless keyboard probably isn't going to be your downfall.

  • 2
    Good paper, thanks! It sounds like they do something like a DH key exchange during pairing. This may not be the person's weakest link, but if you have an office, it'd be nice to make sure you aren't transmitting everything everyone types to anyone nearby - the kind of thing that'd make you fail a pentest/audit. The problem I do see is that it looks (from the little graphic) they are doing a stream cipher, so each keystroke is sent individually. If so, then simple text and time analysis may reveal the contents of human language communications.
    – MichaelGG
    Nov 2, 2014 at 16:36
  • If it was cleartext, I'd say yeah, you'd fail an audit, but yours is using 128 AES encryption. Your attacker would need to be within 33 feet, without obstruction. With that range a physical attack would be much more effective/probable.
    – P0LYmath
    Nov 2, 2014 at 17:01

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