[LINK] suspicious Samsung gear

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Thu Mar 31 17:41:54 AEDT 2011

"Samsung denies shipping laptops with secret spyware

Ben Grubb
March 31, 2011 - 5:14PM


Samsung has denied allegations it installed secret spyware software 
on its laptops that monitors and records users' activity - including 
their keystrokes - without their consent.

The publication to first report the allegations, Network World, said 
Samsung had been given a week to comment but had not responded at the 
time of publication.

Late this afternoon, Samsung Australia said the allegations were "not true".

"Our findings indicate that the person mentioned in the article used 
a security program called VIPRE [antivirus software] that mistook a 
folder created by Microsoft Live Application for ... key logging 
software, during a virus scan."

IT publication Network Wold reported that Mohamed Hassan, founder of 
NetSec Consulting Corp, a firm that specialises in information 
security consulting services, detected spyware on a laptop he 
purchased from Samsung in February.

Earlier today, Samsung spokesman Jason Redmond told PC World that the 
company was looking into the allegations. "We take these claims very, 
very seriously," he was reported as saying.

Samsung Australia, also earlier today, said it was investigating the 
issue "as a matter of urgency" but could not comment on a local level 
because the issue had originated outside of Australia. "As soon as we 
have an update on the investigation, we will share this with you," 
the company said.

Security expert Chester Wisniewski, of security firm Sophos, said in 
a blog post that what Samsung had allegedly done was "astonishing".

"After the massive uproar that resulted when Sony installed rootkits 
on peoples computers when they listened to an audio CD, you would 
hope the world would realise this type of behaviour is totally 
unacceptable," he said.

When setting up the laptop (model R525), Mr Hassan decided to run a 
security program on it and run a full system scan before installing 
any of his own software, the report said. In doing so, it said he 
detected a secret program called "StarLogger" installed.

Typically known as spyware, the secret software alleged to have been 
installed on Mr Hassan's computer is described by one website as 
being able to record "every keystroke made on your computer on every 
window, even on password protected boxes". It goes on to say that the 
software is "completely undetectable and starts up whenever your 
computer starts up".

After analysing the laptop, Mr Hassan came to the conclusion that the 
spyware must have been installed by Samsung, and so he removed it and 
carried on using it normally, the report said. But after some issues 
with the video display, he returned it and bought another model which 
had better features (model R540).

After doing the same security software scan on that laptop, the 
report said Mr Hassan again found the same secret software installed. 
This time he thought something was suss, and so raised the issue with Samsung.

After denying the presence of the software on its laptops, Samsung 
allegedly changed its story and referred Mr Hassan to Microsoft since 
"all Samsung did was to manufacture the hardware".

But after the incident was escalated to a supervisor, Mr Hassan 
claims that they told him that they put the software on their laptops 
to "monitor the performance of the machine and to find out how it is 
being used".

Network World said it contacted three public relations officers at 
Samsung for comment and gave them a week to send back their comments. 
"No one from the company replied," it said.

Do you know more? bgrubb at smh.com.au"


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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