1. A built-in keylogger in Windows 10.
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 Developer Preview contains an integrated keylogger that captures everything that users type on their keyboards and sends these logs to the corporation.
Moreover, even voice commands and dictation results are logged in the same way.
The company explained that the collection of this information helps improve the operating system’s word autocompletion feature and the build-in spellchecker.
Particular concerns among some users were raised by the fact that the license agreement (terms and conditions of the Insider Program) states that the user agrees with the disclosure of keyboard logs both to Microsoft and undefined third parties.
2. Keyloggers found in new Samsung laptops.
Researchers have found a software keylogger installed on Samsung laptops purchased online.
The program discreetly collected information about key presses, made screenshots and sent them to an unidentified recipient.
An anonymous consultant explained that the purpose of installing this spyware was the collection of data for improving future device control features.
Although Samsung has initiated a lengthy internal investigation, it has not officially admitted its role in this scandal and voiced an assumption that the programs had been installed by store employees.
3. A scandal around the Carrier IQ app installed on 140 million phones.
An app called Carrier IQ was found on a huge number of devices from all major manufacturers, from Apple and Google to Nokia and HTC.
Its official purpose was the collection of phone parameters and general usage details. However, the researchers have found out that the program is also capable of accessing multiple types of users’ data, such as the lists of visited websites and sent text messages.
Apple completely removed the application only in the latest version of iOS. Other manufacturers explained the presence of the program on their devices by a mistake made by wireless service providers during phone localization.
4. Spying computers available for purchase by installments.
Several chains of stores were offering an installment plan for computers with a program called “PC Rental Agent” included in the standard software bundle.
The program was initially intended for monitoring computers sold by installments – that is, computers that still belonged to the stores.
However, store employees did not inform customers about the purpose of these programs. They could be used for remotely installing any other software on customers’ systems.
Such software could include tools capable of making screenshots, activating the webcam, recording key presses or locating the system using the nearest Wi-Fi networks.
The investigation revealed multiple cases of abusive behavior by store employees. Some of them were spying on customers for fun, and some of them continued to do so even after the last installment was paid.
The store owners were forced to pay ample compensations to affected customers.
5. Skype – an illusion of privacy.
Skype, a popular communications program for text, audio and video chats, has been in the center of spy scandals surprisingly often.
Even before the company was acquired by Microsoft, it was rumored to be a part of “Project Chess”, a secret initiative aimed at making users’ data available to secret agencies.
After Edward Snowden’s revelatory publications, Skype appeared on the list of companies cooperating with PRISM, a monitoring system created by the U.S. National Security Agency.
This information, however, remained a mystery. Which is probably the way it’s supposed to be in spy stories.