PhotoPrivacy is a precious commodity in today’s consumer culture, with computer users having to contend with spyware, malware, phishing attempts, and a host of other insidious tech-related probes. While the following doesn’t seem to fall under that same malicious category, owners of certain HP laptops may be surprised to learn that their every keystroke may have been recorded, including those used to enter sensitive passwords and log-in information.

A team of Swiss security researchers at ModZero have found that these devices come pre-installed with an audio driver that basically acts as a keylogger. For those who don’t know, a keylogger is a program or device that records and stores all the keystrokes you make on your device. Someone with access to a keylogger would be able to see any private or sensitive information.

In this case, the keylogger was found to be part of a debugging feature on audio drivers that were installed on several models of HP laptops and tablets. CNET reports that executable files within the drivers recorded keystrokes and sent the information to a log file in a public directory in the device’s hard drive.

“This type of debugging turns the audio driver effectively into keylogging spyware. On the basis of meta-information of the files, this keylogger has already existed on HP computers since at least Christmas 2015,” the researchers said.

Never meant for finished products

The researchers found that 28 HP laptop and tablet models that have this keylogging feature. They include:

  • HP EliteBook 820 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 828 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 840 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 848 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 850 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 640 G2 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 650 G2 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 645 G2 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 655 G2 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 450 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 430 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 440 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 446 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 470 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ProBook 455 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 725 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 745 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 755 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP EliteBook 1030 G1 Notebook PC
  • HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation
  • HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Tablet
  • HP Elite x2 1012 G1 with Travel Keyboard
  • HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Advanced Keyboard
  • HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G3 Notebook PC
  • HP ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation
  • HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation
  • HP ZBook Studio G3 Mobile Workstation
  • HP EliteBook Folio G1 Notebook PC

In a statement, HP explained that the feature should never have been included in the final versions of the devices. "Our supplier partner developed software to test audio functionality prior to product launch and it should not have been included in the final shipped version," the company said.

HP vice-president Michael Nash said that a patch for the issue has been added to Windows update and can also be accessed at HP’s website.


Share your Comments