Samsung denies installing keyloggers on laptops

Samsung has hit back at reports that it has been installing spyware on its laptops, claiming that researchers fell for a false positive in their scanning software which saw a legitimate Windows system file flagged as suspicious.

Security researcher Mohamed Hassan reported over on Network World yesterday that two brand-new Samsung laptops he had purchased came with a keylogger application pre-installed, designed to silently monitor keystrokes and report the back to a central control server.

Upon contacting Samsung, the company initially denied all knowledge - but then, Hassan claims, admitted installing the software, known as StarLogger, to 'monitor how the system was used.' This, Hassan points out, is ever-so-slightly illegal, and resulted in the Internet rising up against the company, comparing its actions to those of Sony BMG during the CD-borne rootkit debacle a few years ago.

Samsung, however, has stepped forward and denied that there is a keylogger on any of its laptops - accusing Hassan of failing to do basic verification on his findings, an embarrassing matter for a man who prides himself on his MSc in Information Assurance, CISSP, and CISA qualifications.

Responding to our request for clarification, a Samsung spokesperson claimed that the company's laptops are secure after all. "The statements that Samsung installs keylogger on R525 and R540 laptop computers are false," the spokesperson said. "Our findings indicate that the person mentioned in the article used a security program called VIPRE that mistook a folder created by Microsoft’s Live Application for a key logging software, during a virus scan.

"The confusion arose because VIPRE mistook Microsoft's Live Application multi-language support folder, labelled 'SL,' as StarLogger. Depending on the language, under C:\Windows folders are created labelled 'SL' for Slovene, 'KO' for Korean, 'EN' for English."

Samsung's claims are backed up by follow-up reports circulating in the hours after Hassan's research was made public, demonstrating that identical laptops to those used in his investigation were found to be completely spyware-free.

Hassan, at this time, has not responded to Samsung's claims that his research has been found lacking.