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Anti-Keylogging Recommendations?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the start-thinking-lawyer dept.

Privacy 179

BeeazleBub writes "A friend asked me about the best programs to detect and remove spyware/logging/monitoring software that might have been placed on her computer by a spouse. Since there are a plethora of good and bad programs out there, I thought I would ask the slashdot crew for their recommendations. What is simple, reliable and most effective? I'm sure some of you have had the same question or circumstance. (No, booting from a Linux CD is not an option for this user)."

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Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (5, Insightful)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454342)

It's a domestic dispute that no one wants to get into. The obvious solution, to own your computer with free software, is not an option. All that's left is to delve into the cesspool of Winblows "solutions" and other inappropriate technical answers to an environment of broken trust.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (4, Insightful)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454386)

I agree. There is no solution. There are hardware keyloggers, software keyloggers, the spouse could log all traffic to/from the machine or take a screenshot every now and then. There is no solution to this. Trust your spouse or grap your computer and lock it somewhere only you have the key to.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (4, Interesting)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454464)

Trust your spouse or grap your computer and lock it somewhere only you have the key to.


Too true.

Nowadays, if you need a "trusted" computer, think about getting a Mac Airbook that you can slip into a folder in a filing cabinet when not in use, or keep with you all the time.

Using a laptop raises the hurdle for installing a hardware keylogger (they're usually just dongles that sit between the keyboard and the computer), and using OS X should raise the bar a bit to install malware (not that it doesn't exist, it just might be more difficult to find, and navigating in OS X will be more challenging for a user not use to it).

Using a small footprint laptop (like the Air), means you can hide it "in plain site", or in a place you can ensure physical control over (although personal control trumps al others for security).

Realize that unless you're using encrypted protocols to browse web sites or send/receive email, your traffic could still be intercepted on the network, but that again requires a more sophisticated user than the average "Spouse who installed a keylogger".

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454542)

But honestly, it seems like this isn't a real case. Because apparently you can't boot from a Linux Live-CD, which would make the most obvious answer of "reformat your drives with Windows" also obsolete. As for hardware keyloggers, most seem to be rather obvious if you just look at the back of your computer where the either USB or PS2 connectors for plugging in your keyboard are and if there is extra hardware there remove it. This situation is kinda like saying BASH/ZSH/CSH/Every other shell in the system has been rooted so you can't trust them but you also can't just create a new user, reinstall your *NIX OS or replace the binaries.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (5, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455452)

Oh, there's a solution: the friend needs to uninstall their spouse.

Honestly, if you're at the point in a relationship where you're spying on each other, it's time to just throw in the towel and find a partner you can trust.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (0)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455514)

Honestly, if you're at the point in a relationship where you're spying on each other, it's time to just throw in the towel and find a partner you can trust.
Maybe, maybe not.

For all we know, this elaborate game of deception and control is foreplay for this couple. While it's definitely time to ask if this is the kind of relationship BeeazleBub's "friend" wants to be in, the answer is not an automatic "no".

Marriage is "til death do you part", not "until we aren't happy anymore." If you want the latter, don't get married, just live together and, if one "spouse" stays home, considering getting a lawyer and specifying the terms of the "contract." (trust me -- it'll be cheaper than paying for the eventual divorce.)

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455876)

Marriage is "til death do you part", not "until we aren't happy anymore."

Sorry, gotta call utter bullshit on this one.

Seriously, if you are in an abusive relationship, LEAVE. Leave before it gets worse, leave before it injures or kills you.

A psychologically abusive relationship is just as bad as a physically abusive one -- perhaps worse, because the victim is led to believe a pack of lies that keeps them from leaving.

There is no reason to stay married in this situation. If you're worried about the whole "till death do us part" thing, consider that the abuser broke the vows first by failing to love and honor.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (4, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456116)

If you're worried about the whole "till death do us part" thing, consider that the abuser broke the vows first by failing to love and honor.
What an excellent point. That I haven't seen it stated so clearly until now probably says something unfortunate about the amount of slack given to abusers.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (2, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456142)

For all we know, this elaborate game of deception and control is foreplay for this couple.
<tone="snarky, eye-rolling asshole">Yeah, because every time I've seen couples in which one person spies on the other, it was clearly loving foreplay. I'm sure that's by far the top motivation for spyware sales and PI hires.</tone> Give me a break.

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455618)

Now that you're gone
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dreams of what love could be
If you were still here with me

Re:Most Worthless Ask Slashdot Ever. (1, Troll)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455422)

Don't worry twitter, when free software becomes popular enough that a few hundred million people like these are using it, crapware peddlers will create keyloggers for it too, and your argument will be seen as just another one of your karma-for-the-win "free software is perfect" flamebait, since having the source to the OS or any other application is completely irrelevent in cases like these. Your "Winblows" quippy falls flat, as usual.

Should we now expect one or two of your sockpuppets to appear on this thread to agree [slashdot.org] with you? [slashdot.org]

I'll bet there's a good back story (5, Insightful)

astrashe (7452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454352)

I'll bet there's a really interesting story behind this.

Here's the answer. She's trying to solve a human problem with a technical solution. It won't work. If she has to use a suspect windows computer, there's no software that will guarantee it's clean. It can't be done.

And if you can't trust the person you're married to, your main problems in life aren't computer problems.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454446)

I agree. My first thought was "don't get involved."

Even if you think the husband is a spouse-abusing homicidal maniac, don't do this. If there is evidence, turn him into the police. Otherwise stay out.

She can google it. She can take it somewhere (like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc). I know their terrible, but hey. If they work things out, you are the guy who tried to help her get out of the marriage. That won't ender you to him. If things go farther, how do you think you'll be treated if there was a key-logger and your solution didn't work? If there is no key-logger and she is just reaching and scared and overwhelmed, then playing into that could make things worse (in the harder for them to get together and fix their marriage if possible sense).

She can use another computer, reinstall Windows, whatever. Don't get in the middle of someone else's fight (unless it is to save their life or some such, in which case, again, call the police). I seriously doubt doing this will make your life easier in any way.

Tell her to go to a private eye. Talk to a (better) divorce attorney. But tell her you don't want to get involved in this.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23454642)

Your biggest hurdle in giving advice seems to be: English.

The End.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455752)

Based on what? Misuse of "their" and "farther" instead of "they're" and "further?" Not only do these two mistakes not render the post as difficult to read, compare it with your own unnecessary use of the colon.

Yeah, I think you're just being a dick, and on a weak basis, at that.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (2, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455366)

If they work things out, you are the guy who tried to help her get out of the marriage.
I got the impression that this just might be the submitter's goal. Maybe the wife and him are having an affair and she (and he) wants to keep it from the husband.

Either way, your and the GP's comments are spot on. There isn't a technical solution to a social problem.
 

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455542)

If they work things out, you are the guy who tried to help her get out of the marriage.
For what it's worth -- be aware that interference in someone else's marriage is a tort in some states. Which means that, if alleged in court, the other spouse can sue you for damages.

Do you want to wind up in court and potentially paying for someone else's divorce? (To say nothing of a charge of adultery, which is still a crime in some states and can conceivably lead to jail time.)

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456290)

Its TWO states. And it's tremendously hard to do.

That said, the setup is stupid. Either wipe the damn thing, or well.. wipe the damn thing.

Seriously, it takes 4 hours at most to get windows installed, drivers, and service packs. The only reason not to do that would be pirated software, and well, you get what you pay for eh?

Even FINDING a keylogger isn't going to do anything, if there is one, IT DOESNT PROVE THE SPOUSE DID IT. It could always come in through a hole of some kind. (If the gal is dumb enough to not know how to combat a keylogger, she's dumb enough to let stuff in in the first place.)

That said, I sympathize with the need to find proof, I used technical means (Wireshark and Ethereal) to get proof my wife was cheating. Now, I am selling the house and throwing away her shit while she rents a one room in the ghetto. (Karma is a biatch, just like my wife.)

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456978)

Advice like this "leave her to fight it alone" is what keeps way too many of us isolated in bad and even dangerous relationships.

Who can afford [or has the time, if employed] to talk to a divorce attorney, let alone a "better" one? Why would you even trust an attorney with computer or privacy questions??

The only general reason to not get involved is if involvement means participating in something illegal. Teaching someone how to check for spyware is nowhere near illegal.

Fact is, way too many people in society are infected with pathological misconceptions about what relationships should be. We all need help avoiding and escaping situations in which those people react destructively.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454494)

I agree, on all points. Anyone that suspicious either is nuts or has reason to be suspicious, and either way, they are in trouble.

I'd like to know why "booting from a Linux CD" isn't an option, though. Even if she has to use Windows for something work related, if she's doing anything where she wants privacy, what's wrong with a LiveCD? You can use AIM and Firefox. A LiveCD and a thumbdrive she can hide for files would work pretty well for that, and she doesn't have to be that bright to do it.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455548)

Even if she has to use Windows for something work related, if she's doing anything where she wants privacy, what's wrong with a LiveCD?
It's Linux, that's what. Our poster already asked his "friend" that option, and it was rejected for some existing reason.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (2, Informative)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455972)

I know it's an existing reason. I want to know why:

I'd like to know why "booting from a Linux CD" isn't an option, though.


There's a reason I directly quoted the summary; I recognize THAT it's not an option. Why it's not an option is the question.

Re:I'll bet there's a good back story (2, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454592)

Here's the answer. She's trying to solve a human problem with a technical solution. It won't work. If she has to use a suspect windows computer, there's no software that will guarantee it's clean. It can't be done.


You are absolutely right, which pretty much ends this discussion right there.

Normally I'd suggest to do a complete Windows reinstall (assuming you have to run Windows), or install Linux, but you can't trust a Linux machine either, if others have physical access to them (and they know what they're doing).

In any case this is a completely moot point for the exact reasons you mentioned.

Assuming the real (non-tech) problem at hand here cannot easily be addressed, I'd suggest maybe buying an Asus EEE PC (since they're not too expensive and relatively easy to carry with you all the time). In addition, buy an USB stick or SD-card, and only store your data on those. They will easily fit in your wallet. But yeah, buying new hardware to work around this problem does not sound like a real solution, to be frank.

Forget that... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23454364)

Tell her to buy her own computer and keep it secure, and to get a good divorce lawyer... a husband that doesn't trust her is probably projecting his own untrustworthiness onto her.

Re:Forget that... (2, Insightful)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456782)

Or she wants to IM or Email her lover without him finding out, and her "friend" wants our help to make sure she doesn't get caught. Why do you think the "spouse" would want to spy ? Oh I know, he's just fucking crazy. Hey, lets ask slashdot how we can get away with this. Good plan. Evidently said spouse doesn't read /.

There is only one true way to avoid keyloggers. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23454380)

The only true way to avoid keyloggers is never touch any keys... not very useful! On any computer, now how much control you might exert over it.. as soon as it is out of your sight, or you are asleep, it could in theory be compromised.

Spybot S&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23454448)

I like using Spybot Search & Destroy as one of my first tools to check systems http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html

Divorce. (4, Insightful)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454454)

Only solution. Either the wife is spying on the guy, in which case she doesn't trust him, or the guy is baselessly convinced that his wife is spying on him, in which case he doesn't trust her. Either way, this relationship is doomed.

whoops (1)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454482)

Got my genders mixed up. Regardless, my answer still holds.

Re:Divorce. (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456728)

Either way, this relationship is doomed.

I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I'd have thought that another option would be to work on fixing the root problem, rather than just bailing on the relationship.

Divorce (3, Insightful)

jps25 (1286898) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454490)

If trust in a relationship is gone and you have to play hide and seek, there's only one option left. Divorce.

Re:Divorce (2, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455592)

Let me guess: you're single?

"Trust" means "I trust that I know my partner, and know what they are capable of and what they can be relied upon."

It does NOT mean "I trust my partner to do X."

For example, my wife can't trust me to take out the trash, and I can't trust her to change the oil in our car. Does that mean we should get a divorce?

Re:Divorce (2, Insightful)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456018)

There's a huge difference between "she doesn't change the oil" and "I need to monitor every keystroke she makes."

If you need to monitor everything someone does then you don't trust them.

Re:Divorce (4, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456004)

Divorce is messy and you lose half your stuff. Further more some take the "til death" vows seriously. This leaves open the superior option, Murder.

Format disk (4, Informative)

coldfarnorth (799174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454492)

Format, Reinstall. That wipes software. Splurge and buy a new keyboard if you don't trust it. Do a quick look for suspicious looking hardware. That should handle the worst. Ah, and change the locks to the house. No point going to all the trouble is the Ex-Spouse has access to the machine.

Re:Format disk (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454602)

But if you can't use a Linux live-CD how are you going to format or reinstall? As both the Windows install CD and a Linux live-CD have just about the exact same method to boot. If one doesn't work the other one won't either (unless it is a case of the Linux CD doesn't have enough RAM but with DSL any computer made in the last like 10 years should work perfectly fine).

that's the least of her problems (3, Informative)

Stradivarius (7490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454498)

If I had any good recommendations for such tools, I'd give them, but I don't, so I'll try to help in another way. I'll pose some questions that hopefully your friend will be asking herself:

1) Isn't this missing the forest for the trees? If a marriage is so lacking in trust that she thinks her spouse is spying on her, there's a problem. If her spouse actually did install such a thing, there is similarly a problem. This is a much greater problem than the software itself. If she wants to save the marriage, this is the sort of situation where a counselor or similar trusted third party could be very helpful.

2) If the logger or other software is indeed there, what is she worried about him discovering? If she's just (rightfully) angry about the installation of this software, and trying to demonstrate a point by removing it, that's one thing. But if there actually is something she wants to hide, again this is a far bigger problem in the relationship than the software.

Good luck to your friend. This sounds like a tough spot to be in.

Re:that's the least of her problems (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454604)

Perhaps she is trying to gather valuable information for the divorce.

Re:that's the least of her problems (3, Insightful)

Basje (26968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454980)

Or maybe he is. For all we know BeeazleBub, the poster, is having an affair with her. A friend indeed.

Re:that's the least of her problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455068)

A Slashdot user who has any form of sexual or romantic contact with a person of the opposite sex? IMPOSSIBLE!

(Yes, I know that I generalized the very diverse range of Slashdot users, who all widely vary in attractiveness, demographics, social status, and sexual orientation into the "CowboyNeal" category, but you can't take an off-topic, oft-used joke once in a while? Come on!)

(Also, my captcha: "malign". Hmm.)

Re:that's the least of her problems (2, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455310)

Perhaps she is trying to gather valuable information for the divorce.
If that was the case, then a detached 3rd party who is a specialist in the field should be doing the forensics.

If she takes the computer in for repair with claims if running slow and suspect being the target of a directed attack, then that can be used as evidence.
If joe schmoe guy who is her friend does the same, the court would most likely ignore or strike that evidence out, and also gives the husband an attack vector by claiming this guy planted it to undermine their marriage or trying to get into her pants, which would not only have the evidence thrown out, but look worse for her own case.

Sadly, this service will be expensive. You can't really trust best buy or geek squad to not just glaze their eyes over at your description, hear only 'virus', and just format the machine and reinstall.
Now, if she just wants the keylogger gone, this is a good solution. However for gathering evidence, it is disastrous.

The problem is the poster never mentioned their intentions. The way to go about doing this is VASTLY different depending on if they want to find and prove its there, or just get rid of it.

No luck (2, Insightful)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454506)

If booting of a Linux CD isn't an option because it is perceived as "too technical" no other tool can help (even booting from a clean media wouldn't help against physical keyloggers or sniffers).
A small Asus EEE PC with a encrypted SSD, grub/bios password and hidden away may allow the person to communicate in secret with some measurement of security against non-technical opponents with limited resources, if the person is able to use some kind of SSL proxy so that the data can't be sniffed easily. Tempest attacks or even simple hidden cameras may spoil even that.

So, get a divorce instead.

--
Regards

Simple (5, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454600)

Just install a key logger of your own. Then you'll be able to see any access he's been making, including any to the keylogger he has installed.

From my own experience, Tin foil hats are good, but access to the government computers to make sure they aren't after you is more comforting to me.

Note to federal agents: I have not gained access to your computers. And you might want to change your desktop wallpaper, scantily clad women on a work computer is just begging for a lawsuit.

don't kill anyone (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23454612)

it didn't work for hans reiser, it wont work for you...

First Thing... (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454620)

Although the least likely to happen is to check for hardware keyloggers first. They're in meatspace so it should be pretty damn easy to spot. Next would be booting from a Linux Live CD like Knoppix or something and using that instead of the potentially compromised computer.

Lastly, the guy should divorce her. If she's spying on him its to find grounds for a divorce that will net her a nice chunk of change in the settlement. Probably saying something stupid like he's surfing porn (what guy doesnt?) is the same as cheating or some other bullshit that a judge might accept to throw the book at him and have him paying alimony for the rest of his life.

Re:First Thing... (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454744)

If booting from a Live CD isn't an option (which was said even in the summary, do people not even read THAT anymore?), then she's going to have ZERO clue what a hardware keylogger looks like.

Anyway, several people here have already stated the blindingly obvious, and I'll agree with it 100%. If things are to the point where this is even a question, then the marriage is doomed. She doesn't trust him to not spy on her, and if he IS spying, then he doesn't trust her. Communication Fail and Trust Fail built into one package.

Impossible (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454686)

There's no way to be 100% certain that nothing's being logged. Possible data gathering points:

  • Software logger in the OS
  • Rootkit
  • Keyboard plugged into a hardware logger
  • Keyboard contains a hardware logger
  • Computer case contains a hardware logger
  • Linksys router is actually running Linux, using tcpdump to log outbound packets or forward them to another computer

No, there is no software you can run that will tell you if you're being monitored, by virtue of the fact that such software is impossible.

Have her get a cheap laptop - maybe an Eee PC - and configure OpenVPN to a friendly router. You're a geek, right? If you're serious about her privacy, make it happen.

Re:Impossible (4, Informative)

caitriona81 (1032126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455316)

More possible data gathering points:
  • Previously compromised accounts (email/chat/google web history)
  • Email forwarding settings (yes this is overt, but how many users actually look at their forwarding rules)
  • Recoverable "deleted" files on disk
  • Browser plugins
  • Saved passwords - even if they are "encrypted" any encryption that allows the application to read the password lets someone else do so as well.
Solutions to these additional threats:
  • Every time a compromise is suspected, change all passwords from a secure computer immediately.
  • Check forwarding rules, particularly to web-based email services.
  • Always use SSL/TLS encryption whenever they are available. Learn not to give passwords over unencrypted channels - this won't help you against a keylogger, but it will help you against sniffing.
  • Be aware that "deleting" files doesn't really delete them unless you use specialized tools
Further protection against keyloggers.
  • Reformat.
  • Make your computer as tamper-evident as possible. Buy a UPS so that if the computer reboots, there will be a reason for it. Keep the computer turned on. Secure all accounts on the computer with a password. If it's Windows, encrypt the SAM database with a password that you have to enter at bootup. Remove your own administrator rights, and have a separate administrator account that you only use to install software. Use a BIOS password. Disable booting from anything other than the hard drive. Install physical locks on the case to prevent it from being opened. Epoxy over the screws on the keyboard (after you've bought a new one).
  • Use an alternative web browser.
  • Be careful about opening links and attachments in email. Learn about phishing, particularly the type of targeted phishing that can be attempted by someone with intimate knowledge of their target. (Don't trust the return address on mails in particular - many of the keyloggers out there get on via a trojan horse that you have to be tricked into running)
  • If any evidence of tampering is found, start over.
  • Learn about computer security. http://www.cert.org/homeusers/ [cert.org] is one of the best starting places for non-technical users. Even if you don't understand it all, you have a starting place to ask questions.
  • Remember, trust is the enemy of security. Look for it. Understand how it makes you vulnerable, and decide if the risks are acceptable or not. This mindset extends all the way from the bare metal up to the human being at the keyboard. You have to start to think that way to really be able to keep a computer secure.

Re:Impossible (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455570)

You missed a few points. He could access non encrypted partitions by booting off a CD (And get files, browser history et cetera). He could have added a compromised DNS server. If he's technically skilled enough he could have done any number of things.

Re:Impossible (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455920)

Well, I meant those as examples, not an exhaustive list. But yeah, there's an almost unlimited number of ways an attacker could get information.

Oh, and another protection: format the drive, re-install Windows, and immediately install TrueCrypt to encrypt the entire drive (same idea for Linux, but the original question was for Windows). That should go a long way to prevent non-hardware attacks.

Anti Keylogger (1)

phalanx (94532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454712)

I found Anti Keylogger Shield [amictools.com] , but I don't know if it works.

System Restore Disks (1)

NicholFD (726973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454716)

The ONLY guaranteed method of removing ALL Spyware/Key-logging software is to reformat & start over. Some of the nasty stuff is near impossible to get rid of.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454774)

Not necessarily.
A boot sector virus/keylogger could survive a reformatting.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

NicholFD (726973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454830)

A full wipe & install would get this. Most system restore disks "image" a disk. This would include the boot sector. If a regular OS install disk is used, maybe not.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454866)

Name one that exists.

This isn't the NSA (not that they are all that likely to be installing boot sector viruses) here, this is some guy with trust issues.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454952)

Well, in that vein of logic, I could ask you to prove me that none exist.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455048)

Not really. You are the one making the extraordinary claim.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455436)

How is that extraordinary?
Boot sector viruses were extremely common back in the day. It doesn't need to be all that complicated.
Consider a boot sector virus that stores a 16-bit dos keylogger binary in an "unformatted" area of the disk. Every time the user formats his/her drive, the bootsector virus copies this binary to C:\DOS\memBoost.com and appends a line to autoexec.bat.

MS Systems up to Windows ME would have been vulnerable to this. Maybe even Windows 2k (as part of backwards compatibility), I can't remember...
Considering how many Windows 98 Systems I still see kicking around, I wouldn't dismiss the bootsector option.

Yes, I agree it's unlikely. But my ORIGINAL point was that even formatting your HD isn't foolproof if you aren't careful.

sheesh.

PS, your mom has an extraordinary clam.

Re:System Restore Disks (0, Troll)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456278)

I'm sure you would talk like that to my face.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456718)

Are you bullying me on the internet?

Wow. Cyber-flexing isn't nearly as intimidating as RL-flexing.

Re:System Restore Disks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456804)

No threat was intended. Your behavior is disappointing, and I was telling you as much.

Re:System Restore Disks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456750)

Something tells me his face is occupied with your mom's clam, anyway.

Ugh, didn't anyone read Cryptonomicon? (2, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454718)

C'mon, this is Slashdot.

Obviously you just modify your space bar and numlock LED drivers to perform all I/O in morse code.

Then you type in and display bunch of misleading information to entrap the eavesdropper into doing something silly / stupid / illegal and nab 'em on it.

As far as still being able to check your email and bank accounts and stuff without compromising your passwords, just set up some kind of password vault that uses biometric authentication or something so you never have to type in your actual login / password on the untrusted machine. You'd have to do the setup for the private key and all on a trusted system of course.

The Easy Solution (1)

Middle - Adopter (906754) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454758)

Don't use a keyboard. Duh.

For extra points you gotta flip them bits manually.

My own view (1)

Leonard Fedorov (1139357) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454762)

Open a notepad window or 2. Interspares real typing with putting random stuff into the notepad windows. That way, when the keylogger results are read, they come out of as complete rubbish. A more sophisticated software one might distinguish between where the text was entered, but it would have to dump the file somewhere. Type randomly and look for files that inflate. That would confirm the presence and then you could edit it. Then the keylogger would record you editing the keylogger's log, creating a bizzare echo of everything you type from the reader's perspective. Tripping.

Is the spouse out of the house? (3, Interesting)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454764)

Most people are assuming that the spouse resides in the same residence. If the spouse is already out of the house due to separation, and is possibly using spyware/hardware to collect information for blackmail or court, then there is the option of having someone over to purge the system and visually inspect it.
Any networking hardware like routers that could be compromised would need to be replaced or reflashed. Since she doesn't have the capability of dealing with a boot CD, her only option is third party intervention or going to the library to use their computers.
We're missing too much info...
How tech savvy is the spouse? Does he still live there? What kind of network setup is being used? etc. etc.

Re:Is the spouse out of the house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455194)

How tech savvy the spouse is doesn't really matter. He have may gone for outside help (exactly as his spouse is) to set up the logging.

Go pen and paper (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454848)

And deliver anything personally.

And nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Cant use a liveCD? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454854)

Install linux, next problem.

On either system good virus scanner will keep you covered from 95% of keyloggers so your fine unless you married a geek, but if you married a geek you'd be running linux/bsd anyway (possibly with a custom filesystem)

A friend.... (3, Insightful)

wbren (682133) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454858)

A friend asked me about...
A friend... riiiiiight....

Re:A friend.... (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455926)

It is definitely the stereotypical mislead, but I don't think it is of the context which you infer (meaning, I don't think the submitter is the friend). Let's take a closer look:

A friend asked me about the best programs to detect and remove spyware/logging/monitoring software that might have been placed on her computer by a spouse.

When trying to be vague, as this person is, the whole "on her computer by a spouse" is really too much information. Should we really care that it was the spouse? Isn't it equally relevant to replace "spouse" with "mail man", "nurse", "escaped gorilla"? So that can imply that since the submitter felt that the "spouse" part was important, when actually it isn't, that the relationship between the submitter and alleged friend/offender is probably more personal... like, the friend is cheating on the "spouse" with the submitter, and they have a feeling that the "spouse" knows.

Re:A friend.... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455976)

Actually, I think "spouse" is pretty relevant. Think your babysitter's digging through your hard drive? Get a new one. Don't trust your maid? Get a new one. Landlord gives you the creeps? Move. But it'd be a whole lot harder to just get rid of a spouse (ask Hans), and the emotional consequences for doing so are hopefully more significant than deciding not to hire the same plumber next time.

A couple things to think about (1)

joe_cot (1011355) | more than 6 years ago | (#23454870)

For software keyloggers, you can use a tool like SpyBot [safer-networking.org] to try to find them -- however, I can't guarantee it'll find your specific keylogger, if there is one. There's probably better software at this point, but I haven't used Windows in years.

Another option is to use Windows' built-in search, and search for files modified in the past couple days. If there's a keylogger, odds are its log files will show up. I've accidentally found a keylogger on a friend's computer this way.

Another option is to use a liveCD for everything important. Pick up an Ubuntu LiveCD [ubuntu.com] , and start into that when you need to do things that are suspect.

Keep in mind, however, that you may instead have a hardware keylogger. You may have a dongle like this one [keykatcher.com] , which plugs in between your computer and your keyboard. You could also have one built into your keyboard -- there are companies that sell keylogging keyboards [amecisco.com] , and companies that will embed a keylogger into a keyboard -- either a specific model, or your own if you mail it to them. There could also be one built into the computer, but I don't know of any company that does that.

Moral of the story: if you can't trust the security of your computer, don't use it for things you don't want someone else to see. It might be time for her to invest in a cheap laptop, such as an Eee PC [asus.com] , and either do all her work on a connection he doesn't have access to, or over ssl connections or a VPN.

However, like others have said, worrying about a keylogger from your spouse isn't exactly the sign of a trusting relationship. I assume your friend knows this, and this is a preamble to a separation or divorce. If it's not, I'd suggest your friend and her spouse seek marriage counseling. Good luck to her.

So Let's Summarize... (2, Insightful)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455074)

Comes to /. for technical advice: good!

Gets from /. relationship advice: o noes!!!!

Re:So Let's Summarize... (1)

BeeazleBub (535448) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455168)

Well you know I guess I should have placed a disclaimer that only technical advice was needed. Its been fun.

Re:So Let's Summarize... (1)

ApostleJohn (1236294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455644)

Are you suggesting there may be more than one guy on here unable to get/keep a girlfriend?

Seriously, one big reason to post on /. is if you have a question, other people may have the same question and be interested in the answer. I for one think protection from keylogging is very important and wish we were getting some more advice on this technical issue.

Easy "divorce" answer... (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455164)

It's really easy to say "If the relationship's that broken, just divorce."

It's also badly missing the realities.

If there's that much paranoia, odds are one or both parties are moving towards divorce but know they need to do a bunch of things to either avoid getting screwed in the process (or, if they're malicious, screw the other side).

From experience with friends going through divorce, you should really be doing a bunch of things before you turn the cold war hot:

You should ensure there's money to pay for lawyers in accounts that can't suddenly turn up empty on you.

You should ensure that any evidence of infidelity on their part is documented. Likewise, you should be making sure you've not left any trails on your part.

You should be making sure you've got copies of things like the mortgage paperwork, house deeds, car titles, etc.

You should be contacting a lawyer first, not after you've set things in motion.

Many of these can be handle via the web/email. The last thing you want is the spouse you're leaving having logged conversations with your lawyer and having grabbed the passwords to all of your accounts so they gain privileged information after the split.

So, rather than assuming "It's broken. Go for divorce." and setting them up for a world of hurt they're trying to minimize, how about we try answering the question instead?

Re:Easy "divorce" answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456222)

You should ensure that any evidence of infidelity on their part is documented. Likewise, you should be making sure you've not left any trails on your part.

Not relevant in states with no-fault divorce (California is one). If it were, I might've been able to avoid most if not all of the alimony I'm paying.

...unless of course the spouse would get violent over infidelity, in which case hiding the evidence is a good idea.

Re:Easy "divorce" answer... (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456404)

Infidelity doesn't matter.

The courts care about;

- kids
- assets
- giving as much (of the two above) to women as possible

Yeah, if you are thinking your marriage is rotten, there's good reason to get proof to motivate you to end it. But, photos of a spouse at a hotel mean exactly dick in divorce court. They might mean something for child custody, but that's about it.

Why do... (3, Funny)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455284)

Why do these moronic ask slashdot questions always rule out the one useful answer in the very question?

"A Linux live CD is not an option". Bullshit. You windows-swilling pansy, grow some balls and try Linux. It won't kill you, it won't make you gay, and it won't rape your dog. Are you terrified of being free from >99% of viruses/trojans/spyware/adware/rootkits? Is there some kind of Stockholm syndrome going on here? You LIKE it when windows beats you, don't you? You hide the bruises, that's why you always wear those sweaters.

You sick, twisted fuck.

Re:Why do... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455386)

it won't make you gay, and it won't rape your dog
Shit. I must have used the wrong distribution, then.

My dog still hasn't forgiven me.

detecting malware .. (2, Informative)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455318)

Under Windows, there is no sure way of detecting malware once it's already installed, as it takes steps to hide itself.

The only sure way is a clean install or re-imaging from a hidden partition at boot. Something that would be a pain to set up and probably wouldn't even work with the current incarnation of Windows.

Your bet bet is to get your friend to install these Sysinternals [slashdot.org] ">utilitys and see if they can detect the keylogger by its activity. Monitoring activity [wireshark.org] at the firewall is also a good place to detect suspicious activity.

What is it about Windows that your friend absolutly needs to use. Are there alternatives [slashdot.org] out there.

If you absolutly can't survive without Microsoft applications then why not use a version of Linux that comes with CrossOver [codeweavers.com] , this allows Windows applications to run natively on Linux, without the the same level of malware threat. Eg, by clicking on an URL or opening an email attachment.

Anti-Keylogger Home Trial (1)

opit (854406) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455374)

I used http://www.qfxsoftware.com/ [qfxsoftware.com] freeware on my personal computer for months without known problems. This question is a reminder to install it on my new drive. Supposedly this program ignores the question of are keyloggers present : it just encodes signals from the keyboard and reconstructs them downstream.

Fallout from divorce? (1)

The Stranger (24022) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455614)

A number of others have already speculated about how bad this relationship must be for the woman to believe her spouse is spying on her. However, it is just possible that this is a post-divorce problem. Suppose they have already divorced and she ended up with this computer. I can imagine that she might want to make sure it isn't sending sensitive information to her ex. I could be completely off-base, but I thought I'd point out a semi-plausible scenario where someone might reasonably make this request. In any case, I think a wipe and re-install is probably the only reliable solution.

Re:Fallout from divorce? (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456430)

Hah. Well, that is exactly the senario my wife is in. She got her computer (and gave me the "family" laptop back) and I got my computer.

Both the laptop and my computer got wiped after she had no more access to them. Her computer, probably isn't wiped.

(It's not my wife though, my wife's boyfriend is a geek and not stupid enough to pose a question like this.)

BIOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455628)

I'm presuming they're not booting from a LiveCD because they don't have a password. Remember, most BIOSs can be reset by removing the motherboard battery (If you do this, the password will be different and he'll know). If he's soldered that in your only hope would be replacing the mother board or a brute force attack... And Don't forget that if he's gone to these extents he probably has a way of knowing if the computer case is opened. And probably has the house bugged. IMHO, there is something seriously wrong here.

use a computer outside the home (2, Insightful)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455636)

If the problem is being spied on by their spouse then using a computer outside the home sounds the best option.

I did a website for a women's aid group ("WA"), they wanted information about how to keep it hidden from an abusive partner that the women were in touch with WA. I did a review of what the national centers gave as advice, including details of removing history files and such. In the end I settled for the only method being to use a public computer (eg at a library).

Someone else can spy on you for sure, but unless your partner works at the City IT center or for the library (or wherever) then it's not going to be your partner spying on you.

If you _need_ to get out the house and contact someone and your being abused and can't - please call directory enquiries and contact your local Womens' Aid organisation. They can advise you, give you temporary accommodation in a safehouse, help you talk to the police, help you seek mediation; basically empower you to take back control of your situation.

Re:use a computer outside the home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456672)

I gotta love how all the resources out there for abused spouses are for WOMEN.

Just wait until your abusive psycho wife takes you into divorce court with a lawyer funded by one of these fucking groups.

After they've frozen your assets.

While fighting off an assault charge because you bruised their fingers with your forehead.

A very sex girl! (1)

wooden pickle (1006975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455774)

Just have her start playing World of Warcraft. She'll find out if she has a keylogger pretty quick.

"A" spouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455782)

Is she mormon by any chance?

USE GOOGLE! (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23455970)

I'd bet that if she spent a few minutes Googling the right things that she could tell right away if he is spying on her. Example... 1. Google "secretly removing my spying husbands penis while he is sleeping" 2. Watch for him to sleep 3. Still is divorce. (PROFIT?)

Here are some good ones.... (4, Informative)

Skylinux (942824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456046)

Since most of the posts are not answering your question at all, here are some programs which can help.

I have been fixing Windows computers for over 10 years and can suggest the following programs from personal experience. There is no guarantee that they will find all keyloggers but they will detect the progs you find by using google.

1) Spybot Search & Destroy (free) http://www.safer-networking.org/ [safer-networking.org]
    This is a spyware checker, cleaner. It will also find keyloggers and screen capturing software
2) Antivir (free for personal use) http://www.free-av.com/ [free-av.com]
    This is an Antivirus / malware program which I have found to kick the shit out of Norton Antivirus (Personal + Corporate) and McAfee.
3) Norton Antivirus 2008 (not free)
    This is another antivirus program, it is not as good as Antivir but it may contain different malware signatures then Antivir.
4) Adaware (free) http://www.lavasoftusa.com/ [lavasoftusa.com]
    Like Spybot but less strict, I don't use it anymore but you should run it anyway.
5) Windows Defender (free) http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx [microsoft.com]
    This one is made (purchased) by Microsoft and is actually quite good, I can highly recommend it to remove crap from a computer. This one is free and includes an "active shield"

If you run suggestions 1,2,4 and 5 above you can assume that your computer is clean. To be sure format and reload.

As for the rest, follow the advice above and end the relationship....

Mod Parent Up: +5 Insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456482)

This is the only post I've seen that attempts to actually answer the question.

And yes, she needs to either switch to Linux or use a computer at the library.

-AtC

*sig not found: invalid address*

No easy solution exists (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456176)

Keyloggers are designed to hide. Hence, while non-experts may be able to get lucky with some, with others they will not stand a chance. Sorry.

However the problem is different. In most juristiction, installing a keylogger is a criminal act. One that could well tip the balance in a divorce proceedings. (I expect divorce will be the next step here, as things cannot really work out anymore: One or both partners are paranoid, and there is no trust left.) So if there is good reason to believe in the presence of a keylogger, paying a forensics expert to discover it and doument this in a fashion that will hold up in court, may be a good idea.

Graphical entry mechanisms (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456526)

For sensitive things like typing in passwords to financial sites, a graphical authentication should be utilized wherein the user "types" with her mouse. But, as has been pointed out, there is no 100% safe protection.

Easy: Knoppix (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456602)

Simply boot a Knoppix CD and use that. Physically check for hardware keyloggers and you are done.

Simplest solution (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456774)

Don't use the compromised computer.
Don't use the compromised network.
Assume anything that could be compromised is compromised. Email accounts, IM accounts, online bank accounts, etc. etc. Don't use them.

Detecting hardware keyloggers (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456842)

Given that software keyloggers can be found, (rootkit detector and an encrypted partition) is it possible, perhaps only theoretically, to protect youself from phyical keyloggers without taking your keyboard apart?
Do hardware keylogers supply thier own batteries or could it their power usage be (again theoretically) detected?
Do they log messages from they computer to the keyboard (e.g lock changed)? could anti key loggers spam the keyboard with lock toggles until the memory fills up?
With the ones that dump their logs when a key combination is pressed (this is more common in the ones you hide inside they keyboard, could the fact that somebody is trying at a million words per minute be logged?

sure none of these will keep the nsa off your back, but then again the spouse of the woman the OP is sleeping with is probably just going to have installed some cheap ass detectable software key logger, making 99% of the posts in this thread void (i only saw this [slashdot.org] containing any answers.

Donny? Is that you? (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456936)

Come back to the guild.

Format and Re-install (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457168)

If you don't trust the machine, format and re-install it.
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