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Keyloggers and the Law: Learn from the Mistake of Others

14 May 2015, by — admin ()

Yet another story of a criminal case against someone using keyloggers has caused quite a storm; thus, we would like to discuss whether this program is actually legal or not.

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Also, we want to inform you about a new very important update to our program’s interface that is supposed to help our users avoid innocent infringement.

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Last week, Imran Uddin, a Birmingham University student, was sentenced for four month in jail after admitting several charges which were in breach of the Computer Misuse Act. He connected keyboard spying equipment to four public university computers, stole the passwords that the staff were typing in to log in to the computers, and then used those passwords to “improve” the marks that he had been given for five previous assessments.

The software was discovered when upgrading one of the computers. Initially traces of the student’s activity were found in the grade report sheet logs, later police inspected his computer’s browser history and found keyloggers sale page on eBay as well as the University network authorizations. This evidence was enough for the court.

The reporters who covered this story wrongly stressed that the student had been punished for using keyloggers. This is not quite the case, to say the least.

Purchase of hardware devices (just as well as software) for recording key strokes is not against the law. Provided some conditions are met, neither is installation of such products on the computer you own, or on your kids’ or employees’ computers.

What actually breaches the law is the University network intrusion with help of a password that was stolen from another person as well as data modification in the system.

We often get calls and letters from user either asking us how to intercept a password to a social media account or wondering why the software doesn’t record bank card numbers. The answer is quite obvious: we don’t recommend using our programs with illegal purpose.

Our programs are designed for friendly and legal purposes.

Personal Monitor is a program for parents who want to supervise their children and to help them avoid the dangers of the Internet. For example, there is a “Signal words” function that allows instant alert in case your child uses in his e-mail correspondence one of the specified stop words (e.g. personal information, home address or anything else that you don’t want to be mentioned online).

Employee Monitor is a program for employers who want to know what their employees actually do in course of their working hours. The program prepares reports that include information about which programs the employee has used, which web-sites he or she has visited, or whether he gets to work in time.

As you can see, neither of these programs has a “intercept a password to a social media account” scenario listed among its purposes, let alone credit cards numbers, bank accounts, online wallets and other financial information.

To be sure the user understands the true purpose of our programs and his right to use them on any specific computer, we have implemented a number of solutions that don’t affect a law-abiding person.

1) Installation options

At the very beginning of the program installation the user has to select what he or she is going to use it for:

  • To supervise their own computer,
  • To supervise a child’s computer,
  • To supervise an employee’s,
  • Other purposes.

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If you select “Other purposes” the invisible mode will be turned off and you will not be able to hide the program’s presence. Other options suggest the program works in invisible mode.

2) Installation requirement

When you install the program you will be asked to type the admin user’s password. This password is not stored anywhere, neither it will be used at any point. The program simply checks if this password is correct.

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This prevents the program from being installed without the permission of the computer’s owner (for example, if you forgot to switch off the computer).

3) Interception exceptions

As already mentioned above, and this is a matter of principle, the program does not intercept or record certain things. We are hopeful our users understand this is primarily made for their own safety.

 

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