Secret Government Spying on Laptops
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The Government is Placing Secret Devices On Consumer Computers to Read What You Type-Fiction!

 

 

 

Summary of the eRumor:  
The eRumor says it's from the "Turner Radio Network" and claims that the author of the email has caught the government and computer manufacturers installing hard-wired keystroke loggers on new laptop computers.  
The message includes pictures and descriptions of a device that was found in a laptop.

The email claims that an inquiry to the police resulted in his being referred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

A call to them resulted in his being told to make a request under the Freedom of Information Security Act. That resulted in a letter from Homeland Security saying the information he requested did not have to be revealed and he could appeal by writing to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Some versions of the eRumor say it is Dell that is selling the laptops with loggers on them.
 

The Truth:  
TruthOrFiction.com is declaring this to be a hoax.

Most hoaxes of this nature have been quickly created with pictures and other resources found on the Internet.

We did some searching and, surely enough, we found the original pictures of both the scanned letter from Homeland Security and the pictures of the alleged laptop keylogging device.

First, there is such a device as a keylogger.  It's a small piece of equipment that you can attach to your computer keyboard that keeps track of every character you type.  Some people use them as a back-up so they can retrieve what they've typed in case of a computer crash.  Others have them on their keyboards so they can tell whether someone else has been using their computer and for what purpose.  There are also companies that have installed keyloggers on various corporate computers for purposes of security.  There are also more controversial uses for keyloggers such as spying on other people and law enforcment is said to use them for that.  

One of the products that is sold to the consumer is called KeyGhost and is made in New Zealand.  There is a small, visible version that you simply install between your computer and your keyboard.  There is also a version that looks so much like a normal keyboard cable that you don't know that it's there. There is also a version of KeyGhost that is installed inside of desktop keyboards and is not visible.  The information is actually stored in the KeyGhost and you can download it later on any computer.  There is also a version that can send the keylogger information over the Internet to a different location.

The pictures of the keylogger used in the eRumor were taken from an article about keyloggers posted on the KeyGhost website at www.keyghost.com.

The letter from Homeland Security used in the eRumor is a hoax.

You'll  notice that the letter says it is regarding "File Number 20050112-20050119."  Those are the file numbers listed on a scan of a letter from Homeland Security to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and it had nothing to do with keylogging.  She was requesting documents about White House security procedures and the Secret Service.  The creator of this hoax found a scan of that letter on the Internet then doctored it with the alleged response about being denied access to his files. 

The reference to the "Turner Network" is because one of the versions of the eRumor has been posted on the website of an Internet radio talk show host on the Turner Network.

Updated 10/16/05

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: 10-010-05 Interesting - Govt. checks Your Computer

 
Subject: Pass on please Guys

GOVERNMENT AND COMPUTER MANUFACTURERS CAUGHT INSTALLING HARD-WIRED KEYSTROKE LOGGERS INTO ALL NEW LAPTOP COMPUTERS!

Turner Radio Network | October 4, 2005


Devices capture everything you ever type, then can send it via your ethernet card to the Dept. of Homeland Security without your knowledge, consent or a search warrant each time you log onto the internet!

Freedom Of Information Act Requests For Explanation From DHS, refused.

I was opening up my almost brand new laptop, to replace a broken PCMCIA slot riser on the motherboard. As soon as I got the keyboard off, I noticed a small cable running from the keyboard connection underneath a piece of metal protecting the motherboard.

I figured "No Big Deal", and continued with the dissasembly. But when I got the metal panels off, I saw a small white heatshink-wrapped package. Being ever-curious, I sliced the heatshrink open. I found a little circuit board inside.



Being an EE by trade, this piqued my curiosity considerably. On one side of the board, one Atmel AT45D041A four megabit Flash memory chip.



On the other side, one Microchip Technology PIC16F876 Programmable Interrupt Controller, along with a little Fairchild Semiconductor CD4066BCM quad bilateral switch.

Looking further, I saw that the other end of the cable was connected to the integrated ethernet board.

What could this mean? I called the manufacturer's tech support about it, and they said, and I quote, "The intregrated service tag identifier is there for assisting customers in the event of lost or misplaced personal information." He then hung up.

A little more research, and I found that that board spliced in between the keyboard and the ethernet chip is little more than a Keyghost hardware keylogger.

The reasons a computer manufacturer would put this in their laptops can only be left up to your imagination. It would be very impractical to hand-anylze the logs, and very CPU-intensive to do so on a computer for every person that purchased a laptop. Why are these keyloggers here? I recently almost found out.

I called the police, as having a keylogger unknown to me in my laptop is a serious offense. They told me to call the Department of Homeland Security. At this point, I am in disbelief. Why would the DHS have a keylogger in my laptop? It was surreal.

So I called them, and they told me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. This is what I got back:

.



Under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) the only items exempt from public disclosure are items relating to "law enforcement tools and techniques" and "items relating to national security."

The real life implications of this are plain: Computer manufacturers appear to be cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security to make every person who buys a new computer subject to immediate, unrestricted government recording of everything they do on those computers! EVERYTHING!

This information can be sent to DHS, online, without your knowledge or consent, without a search warrant or even probable cause! That's why this device is hard-wired directly into the ethernet card, which communicates over the internet!

I am not certain how long this information will be permitted to remain online for all the world to see before the government takes some type of action to attempt to have it removed from public view. I URGE you to take copy of this page immediately and spread this information to everyone you know immediately! The more people who find out about this, the more can protect themselves and raise a HUGE outcry to force government and computer manufacturers to immediately CEASE installing these devices in new computers!

No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.344 / Virus Database: 267.11.14/127 - Release Date: 10/10/2005

 


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