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HP rolls out patch to fix keylogging bug in certain laptops

13 May, 2017, 01:39 | Author: Jan Cross
  • HP Elitebook 1030

According to the Swiss cybersecurity group behind the research, Modzero, the feature wasn't created to spy on users - but it was implemented in such a way that it records everything users type. HP hasn't made it clear exactly which pieces of hardware are affected, but if you're running the Conexant audio driver and its MicTray64.exe, then you've potentially got a problem.

That seemed innocent enough but, on further examination, Modzero found that the audio driver package -developed and digitally signed by the audio chip manufacturer Conexant - has been poorly implemented, turning the driver "effectively into keylogging spyware". For instance, keystrokes for actions such as muting/unmuting the microphone is intercepted by the audio driver.

But by storing the recorded details of every keystroke made in unencrypted plain text files, this raises a number of security concerns and questions as to why the software was designed in this way.

While the file is overwritten each time the computer starts up, ModZero said system backups would keep a complete history of user keystrokes.

As spotted by The Next Web, Modzero has published a full list of laptops known to be affected, which includes a range of HP EliteBook, ProBook and ZBook devices.

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Speaking to Sky News, a spokesperson for HP said the company was "aware of the keylogger issue on select HP PCs".

Keyloggers capture a person's key strokes on a keyboard or pinpad.

Users who do not want to wait for the patch can simply search for the following files and delete them: C:\Windows\System32\MicTray.exe or C:\Windows\System32\MicTray64.exe.

The report goes on to note that the logger has been present since "at least Christmas 2015", but a more recent version of the program records all keystrokes in a log file found at C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log. "HP has no access to customer data as a result of this issue", HP told ZDNet.

HP shares closed at $19.26 on Thursday. The real killer here is that it feels the need to log all keystrokes detected to a readily accessible file, for reasons we can't possibly fathom. Nash also stated that the feature was added to the driver production code by mistake and was never meant to be continued in end devices. HP confirmed but didn't specify which consumer models are affected.

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