Computer criminals could soon be eavesdropping on what you type by analyzing the electromagnetic signals produced by every key press, as a technology that has been available to US intelligence agencies for twenty years finally makes its way into the public domain.

Swiss researchers have done it: By analyzing the signals produced by a person?s keystrokes, they have been able to reproduce what that person typed. BBC news quotes them as declaring that keyboards are “not safe to transmit sensitive information.”

One of the biggest problems with computers has to do with disposing of them. It turns out that a powerful greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is at least four times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously estimated. It?s thousands of times more effective at warming the atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide.

What does this have to do with computers? Nitrogen trifluoride is one of several gases used during the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays and microcircuits. This could be escaping into the atmosphere not only from manufacturing plants, but also from landfills with old computers in them.

Researcher Michael Prather says, “It is now shown to be an important greenhouse gas. Now we need to get hard numbers on how much is flowing through the system, from production to disposal.”

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