Samsung denies preinstalling spyware

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Samsung has denied reports that it's been shipping PCs with key-logging software preinstalled.

Mohamed Hassan of security firm NetSec Consulting says he discovered the StarLogger software on two different Samsung laptops. When he called the company, he says, he was told by a supervisor that it was there to "monitor the performance of the machine and to find out how it is being used."

Writing in Network World, Hassan concluded: "Samsung's conduct may be illegal; even if it is eventually ruled legal by the courts, the issue has legal, ethical, and privacy implications for both the businesses and individuals who may purchase and use Samsung laptops. Samsung could also be liable should the vast amount of information collected through StarLogger fall into the wrong hands."

But Samsung says it's now looked into the matter properly, and the software simply isn't there.

"The statements that Samsung installs keylogger on R525 and R540 laptop computers are false," it says in a statement.

"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."

It says the confusion arose because VIPRE mistook Microsoft's Live Application multi-language support folder - labeled 'SL' folder - for the StarLogger keylogging software. Depending on the language, explains the company, under C:\windows folders 'SL' simply stands for Slovene, in the same way as 'EN' for English.

All this still leaves the question open as to why the supervisor told Hassan that the key-logging software was preinstalled in the first place. Customers may be reassured to hear that their every movement isn't in fact being recorded - but they may not be equally impressed by Samsung sales staff's knowledge of their own products.