Samsung Electronics is investigating allegations that some models of its R Series laptops contain keylogging software that could be used to record anything typed on the laptop computers.
Mohamed Hassan said he became aware of the issue last month, when he purchased a Samsung R525 at a Best Buy in Toronto. The laptop had keylogging software on it, which he deleted immediately. Two weeks later, Hassan decided he wanted a more powerful machine, so he returned the R525 and bought a new model — the R540, at a local FutureShop. To his surprise, the keylogger was there too, Hassan said in an interview Wednesday.
“These were new systems. They weren’t used for anything,” he said. “I could give them the benefit of the doubt on the first one. But then when I got a second model, a different model from a different store, that tells me that Samsung is aware of the problem.”
Hassan, an IT consultant based in Toronto, said that Samsung tech support told him: “We just put it there to find out how the computer is being used.”
Samsung spokesman Jason Redmond said that his company is looking into Hassan’s allegations. “We take these claims very, very seriously,” he said. He had not previously heard of the problem, or heard of de Willebois Consulting, the company that makes the StarLogger software that Hassan said he found on the laptop. “We have no understanding of a relationship with this company and we have no prior knowledge of this software being on our laptops,” he said.
De Willebois Consulting did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story. On its Web site, the company says StarLogger “is completely undetectable and starts up whenever your computer starts up. See everything being typed: e-mails, messages, documents, Web pages, usernames, passwords, and more.” The software can also capture screen images, the website says.
If Samsung is responsible for putting the keylogger on the machines, Samsung could be in big trouble, according to Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “They shouldn’t be installing keyloggers on devices that they’re selling to the general public. Even if Samsung isn’t using it, you’re basically setting up someone else to use it,” she said.