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Keystroke Logger Faces Federal Wiretap Charges

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the watching-the-watchmen dept.

The Courts 346

securitas writes "In what prosecutors say is the first case of its kind, a former insurance claims manager was indicted on federal wiretapping charges for allegedly installing a keystroke logger on another employee's computer. The device was secretly installed 'on a PC used by a secretary to senior executives at Bristol West Insurance Group.' Reuters reports that the man, who had been fired, was gathering information for a class action lawsuit against his former employer. SecurityFocus interviews would-be keystroke logger user Larry Lee Ropp who reportedly installed the KEYKatcher device on the PC."

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Stop the madness ! Women are not animals ! (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678569)

The Case of the Excessive Compliments

This case involves a charge of sexual harassment against Terrence Wilford by Sonia Wilson, who says that his continuous attention to her appearance is a form of sexual discrimination.

Sonia Wilson

I am so fed up with my boss. Every time I come in with a new outfit or get my hair cut he has to make some comment on my appearance. What he says sounds like a compliment, but it feels to me like he only notices my appearance, not my work. He never does this to the guys in the office. I want to tell him to quit it, but he'll have some excuse or just get offended. I don't know. One of these days I'm just going to lose my temper and then it's kiss my job goodbye.

Terrence Wilford

Excuse me? She's offended because I say she looks nice? I was raised by my mother to be a gentleman and complimenting women on their appearance is part of being a gentleman. Show me the rules where it says you can't compliment a woman on her appearance. She's probably be more furious if I never noticed. My wife sure is.

Susan Morris

I am truly bewildered by this charge. I have no idea why Ms. Wilson is offended. I would be pleased to receive such comments on my appearance.

Raymond Curtis

Yes, I think complimenting women on their appearance is sexual harassment. It's clearly discriminating between women and men, because of the stereotypes about women and men. Women are typically judged on their appearance, men on their performance. Continually calling attention to women's appearance in the workplace just reinforces this stereotype. I think this is a topic we should address in our sexual harassment training, and I'll make a note of it for our Human Resources Manager.

The Case of the Fondling Exec

This case involves a charge of sexual harassment against Jerry Sullivan by Julia Wentworth who complains that he continuously fondles his genitals in her presence when she is working.

Julia Wentworth

I want to make a complaint against Mr. Sullivan, my manager. He's driving me nuts. Every single day he makes a point to stand where I can see him and he fondles his genitals. He looks right at me when he's doing it, too. You can't mistake what he means. It's embarrassing and distracting. I don't want to talk to him about it; I don't want to talk to him at all. He's creepy. I'm not the only person he does this to; you can talk to Alice Summerby or Wilma Reece. He does it to them, too. Is this harassment? I know I'm going to have to quit if this behavior doesn't stop.

Alice Summerby

Yeah, Mr. Sullivan is a creep. He touches himself and looks straight at me when he's doing it, and I'm trying to work. I don't know what he thinks he's doing. I think he's crazy. I try not to let it bother me, because I have to keep this job. I have small kids and I really need the work. I don't want to make a fuss, because I don't want to get involved. So I just try not to notice.

Jerry Sullivan

I don't know what these women are talking about. I don't "fondle my genitals" in public. They are just complainers who don't get their work done on time and they're trying to make up some excuse. These women are lazy and incompetent and they don't belong in the workplace. Why don't they just go back home where they belong?

Harold Wilberson

I was designated to investigate the claims these women made against Jerry. I never saw him rubbing himself. I decided the women were just trying to get him in trouble. He probably wasn't doing anything but adjusting his pants. He's a big man and wears his pants kind of tight. I told those women to ignore him or tell him to quit it. There wasn't anything to it. If we let those women get away with this kind of stupid complaint, a guy won't be able to work for worrying where to put his hands or what he can say or where he can look.

The Case of Escalating Harassment

This case involves a charge of sexual harassment by Ruth Simpson against Simon Friedman. She describes an escalating pattern of incidents that she claims constitute sexual harassment.

Ruth Simpson

The harassment started very subtly and just got worse and worse until I had to quit. I was working for small computer company setting up computer systems and troubleshooting problems. At first, I didn't realize the harassment was sexual; I thought my boss was just capricious and had a bad temper. He got mad at me for taking too long at one job and he yelled at me. What was odd, however, was that he seemed to expect me to be upset and cry when he yelled at me. That became a pattern. He would get mad at me for some unexpected thing and then just keep it up until he got a reaction. I noticed, however, that when his wife was working in the office he was verbally abusive to her; it was very unsettling. One time when he was yelling at me, he poked my arm. I was upset, but this is a good job and I wanted to stay here. Then one day he grabbed his wife in the office and shook her very hard. Only a week later, he did the same to me. He grabbed my arm so hard that he left a bruise. I just gave him my notice there and then. I didn't realize that it was harassment until I got to talking with some friends how had had training in the topic at their workplace.

Simon Friedman

I did not harass this woman. She was a very bad employee. I was going to fire her anyway if she didn't quit. She took too long on jobs that should have been done quickly and she was careless. What I do with my wife is none of her business and she's making up the rest. I may have grabbed her once, but she just pushed me too far with her insolence and stupidity. I didn't hurt her, and I apologized and that should have been the end of it. I am surrounded by idiots.

Jason Black

Yeah, the boss does yell a lot. He never touched me though. I think he yelled at Ruth more than at the rest of us, but that don't constitute harassment. She's just not as good as we are. Yeah, the boss did yell at lot at his wife, but it was the same thing. She's real dense, you know. She doesn't do anything right and so he has to yell at her. I don't hold with this sexual harassment stuff; it's just women trying to get one up on the men.

Jeremy Henderson

It is clear to me that this man is abusive of his wife. He yells at her for nothing, and I have seen him grab her and shake her. He does this in front of employees, and one time he did it in front of a customer. I hate to think what happens to her at home. I don't understand why she puts up with it. I think he probably brings the same attitude toward women employees. I was really surprised when he hired a woman, but I wasn't surprised when he started yelling at her. Of course, he yells at everyone. But I think he did yell at Ruth more than at the rest of us. I didn't actually pay much attention. And he did grab her once; I saw him do it. I don't believe he ever grabbed a male employee. I don't know whether that behavior constitutes sexual harassment. I never had any training on sexual harassment. I don't know anything about it.

LOg this toast! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678575)

toaster,toaster toaser, do you have toast in you yet i think [rowdyruff.net]
so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Im not a toaster!!!!!!!!!!And one more
thing........YOUR A TOASER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND A COOKIE WITH MILK SOAGE
MILK!!!!!!!!!!AND A BUTT WITH POOP IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yu0 to4st i7 (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678583)

YOU = TEH GHEY !

Just slightly OT (5, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678587)

From http://www.keykatcher.com/testimonials/index.html

"I must thank you for this great invention. Early this year, I discovered my 14-year-old daughter was on the ICQ with a person with a name of "P****". I was shocked and did not know what to do. I then e-mailed the editor of Parent and Child and they reccommended me to do a search on the internet. I was very fortunate to have purchased a KEYKatcher. The ability to read my daughter's e-mail has helped us to make the right decision about the school she would attend last September..."

I mean, is there any useful use for this device at all?

Re:Just slightly OT (-1, Troll)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678607)

"I mean, is there any useful use for this device at all?"

Obviously they sent her to an all girl school, and frankly, if creating a sexually repressed teenager whos destened to rebel by sleeping with everyone and doing porn, AND giving her a hot schoolgirl uniform isn't useful, I don't know what is.

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678729)

I think the above was mismodded because of his tone or because it would be easy to call a troll seombody nickname *.troll, but he's got a point here :
this soft is about CONTROLLING people and it will for sure piss its (victims|targets) off.

If parents or whichever authority attempts to control below them on such a preemptive basis, it'll end badly for sure.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Interesting)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678620)

we actually use something similar in the school i work at. Students are monitored by the logger, if it finds a word or phrase in our database, then a screenshot is sent to us, and we can then watch the student in real time over VNC.

eg. student types in http://192.168.0.1/admin then we know about it (ficticious example: idea is that the kid is going somewhere he shouldn't).

Re:Just slightly OT (5, Funny)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678645)

So, they'll begin typ1ng l1k3 w4r3z m0f035 t0 /\v01d b31ng tr4x0rr3d by n4z1s ?

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Informative)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678658)

we're not trying to read what they're doing, it's frankly of no interest, we're more concerned with *what* they're doing. For example (again) They have no need to ever run a .com file, so if it comes up in the log, i can find out why, and deal with it. Typ1ng l1k3 7h15 will achieve bugger all if they actually want to use the system...

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678731)

it is possible to type .com without typing the letters in order or even next to each other. just use the mouse and reposition the cursor between each key. i hope the students don't know you are using keyloggers, because if they do and don't want to be caught then you are going to quickly teach them how to obfuscate their typing.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678755)

it doesn't actually catch the key strokes, it catches what's on screen. This includes text in program menus, and text on web pages. if they see .com, we know about it (it isn't this cut and dried obviously). As said before, obfuscation doesn't help if you want to type 'command.com'. c0mm4nd.c0m just doesn't have the same effect....

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

Zerth (26112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678797)

it does if you've a file named "c0mm4nd.c0m.[bat|exe]" that executes command.com :)

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678800)

I suppose you have clear rules for students then? So everyone surely knows that they should not try to run .com files etc. ? Or is this surveillance done in great secrecy to avoid provocating students with some accurate set of rules?

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Informative)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678842)

yeah, they're called policies, and they are signed by the students, and by the students parents, and they are available for all. When they log on, they are reminded that their actions will be monitored, and they consent to this before they are given access.

Re:Just slightly OT (3, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678810)

You mean like www.microsoft.com or someone@hotmail.com?

And BTW, for running a .com file, it suffices to just type the name without the ".com"!

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678854)

it was a bl**dy example. stop nitpicking. :)

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Robmonster (158873) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678932)

I'd be interested to know what kind of performance hit this monitoring software has.

Can it recognise the phrases in different fonts/colours?

Lessons learned... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678771)

I have to agree that this sort of behaviour is absolutely inevitable in nowadays everyday life. In the past it was called "social control" where small communities monitored each other's behaviour to see if somebody wasn't stepping out of line. If they would, due psychological force could be executed to get them in line again ("gossip"). Now this practice has mainly gone away simply because there are less and less small communities, and thus we need to monitor other people by different means. Ofcourse, in due time virtual communities will take over the "social control" thing in a comparable way, but it's not there yet.

In the meantime, we shall have to rely on the usual methods of camera's, microphones, keyloggers and traitors. I think we can learn a lot from former Soviet-Russia and sortlike countries that have executed this behaviour in great practical ways...

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678661)

Good to hear that Big Brother is alive and well in our schools. This kind of thing just makes me sick. Is it appropriate to have computers monitor the phone line in a school for keywords or phrases, and then listen in when they're detected?

Re:Just slightly OT (-1, Troll)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678668)

yes, if those phrases include "i'd like to buy a big bag of your finest columbian heroin please". We have a duty of care, we aren't just going to let them run riot.

Disclaimer: we don't monitor phone lines. We do monitor students actions on the PC's, the internet, and email, for appropriate content. We don't do this by trawling through every one of their files, they are only examined if questionable content is found. It works very well.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Jarnis (266190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678684)

This is just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Big brother is truly alive and well... I guess Orwell got it wrong by 20-30 years, but that's irrelevant.

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Interesting)

loyalsonofrutgers (736778) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678721)

I agree. Especially in states where the state constitution provides an explicit right to privacy (for example, Alaska, a notoriously libertarian state). There is a big, big difference between filtering internet content and monitoring an individual. I recall when I was a freshman in high school the ELP (gifted program) lab computers had a program to take a screenshot every so many seconds and save them to be reviewed. It turns out that it was a student "administrator" who had installed it and who reviewed the screenshots. THAT was a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678738)

BTW, i'm not in the US. We have the right to do this, and we do. It makes for a safer environment. Parents like it, we like it.

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678722)

You realize, of course, you actually diminish the message of Orwell when you bleat this tripe.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Robmonster (158873) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678943)

So you think these PC's should be entierly unmonitored, letting the users search and access whatever they want?

The IT Staff shouldnt monitor attempts to breach internal security using these PC's?

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678701)

Duty of care? The internet is everywhere, not just schools. You can order up some nice heroin on the phone too, but there's no "duty of care" because you provide a phone line.

Are you going to bug the bathrooms to find out if anyone is making drug deals? What's so special about the internet that you feel you should monitor usage on such a personal level?

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678720)

I take it you're not a parent. Find one who wouldn't be concerned that we offered filter free, non-monitored use of the internet.

If a student starts accessing material of an unsuitable nature, who gets it in the neck? we do. Parents like to know that their children are safe when they are at school.

Re:Just slightly OT (5, Insightful)

Slamtilt (17405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678789)

I take it you're not a parent. Find one who wouldn't be concerned that we offered filter free, non-monitored use of the internet.

I'm a parent, and I wouldn't send my kids to a school with a policy like yours. That policy is not, by the way, the same as offering "filter-free, non-monitored use of the internet". There are ways of achieving a safe and humane environment without logging every keystroke, and it's disingenuous to imply that there aren't.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678804)

we don't log every key stroke. the system see's words on the screen. text in menus, words in documents, etc. if one of these is found in our database, a screenshot is taken. We don't log everything they type. It's not the same as a keylooger, just an example of where similar technology is used, and a good idea.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678888)

Who gets to decide what's unsuitable? Is going to a site about homosexuality unsuitable? How about abortion? Are holocaust denier sites unsuitable? The point is that someone, somewhere is always going to have some problem with everything. Why don't I get to tell kids they can't look at sites involving Rush Limbaugh? I think he's harmfull to children, and a liar to boot. The guy will probbably encourage kids to become pill-poppers just like him.

This isn't a new problem as certain parents have long squawked about books like Huckleberry Finn and Catcher In The Rye even being available in the school library. If porn is the big problem it's pretty easy to spot if you've got an adult in the lab.

How old are these kids? Below a certain age I can see monitoring of the kids by a teacher, and not allowing chat and unrestricted access. Starting at somewhere around High School it seems very inappropriate to be monitoring every keystroke though.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

jp10558 (748604) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678914)

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say my parents, and the parent's of most of my friends. In fact - this is what our highschool had the entire time I was there. Any let me tell you - most people did everything they could to avoid porn, cause it's embarrasing to be caught(by friends or passerby) in HS looking at that. Besides- that's why you have the net at home.

Seriously, what is so scary on the net that teenagers need supervision on it? What can they do to get in trouble? Chat with some people? See some dirty pictures? Come on - no one in their right mind cares. Now my parents and pretty much any parents doing their job should draw the line at running out to meet strangers regardless how the teen set up the meeting. As long as the teens don't have a credit card, I fail to see how anything permanant or dangerous could happen.

Get a grip. I don't want Orwell, and neither does anyone else.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678945)

You'll find those parents outside the US - and you know what? Our kids are alive and well - no school shootings and less drug problems.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678946)

take it you're not a parent. Find one who wouldn't be concerned that we offered filter free, non-monitored use of the internet.

I'm not a "parent", but I am helping to raise my GF's 3 children. I don't feel the need to resort to spying or filtering the internet access in our home. I have told the children that they will NOT be getting internet access in their rooms, they will use the computers in either the living room or the kitchen where we can see them. I don't care if they're going to cartoon network or nickelodeon, or whatever, but if I see a naked ass on the monitor; someone's in trouble.

LK

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678961)

So you've just agreed with me. There are 300 PC's on site, and one member of staff for every thirty. Teachers can't see the screens of all the kids at once, but we have a means too, should we need to. If we see naked ass in the logs, someones in trouble.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678763)

Who decides what's appropriate?

Rationalize whatever you want, but he's correct, you are the Orwellian Big Brother, and what you're doing is dispicable.

Then again, I guess you're probably just bored shitless as an IT guy in school and need something to get your jollies from. :)

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678779)

How is preventing 11-18 year olds from accesing hardcore norwegian donkey porn dispicable?!?!?!

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678847)

For that, a simple HTTP proxy with appropriate filter rules, combined with a firewall which routes all HTTP requests through that proxy, should be more effective and less privacy invading.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678698)


Actually, kids in schools can not prevent the search of their lockers, as the school owns the lockers. I imagine it is this same logic that is extended to computers owned by the school.

The same unfortunately is applicable to many places of employment. Owning the equipment gives employers the right to monitor it. I believe that this was decided in the supreme court.

You should never assume that you have privacy on equipment you do not own.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678768)

So if the school owns a phone they can listen in on all calls? It may be legal for the school to do the monitoring, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. I find it frightening that a generation can grow up with the expectation of being monitored constantly.

Re:Just slightly OT (2, Insightful)

azaris (699901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678862)

You should never assume that you have privacy on equipment you do not own.

OK, then I suppose you'd be fine with a clothing store videoing their customers in the changing room and selling the tapes on the Internet. After all, those people have no expectation of privacy since they don't own the store.

Similarly, an ISP would be permitted to decrypt the passwords of their clients, rummage through the data stored on their servers and see if there's anything useful or naughty in there.

We must concede that the question of privacy is not a line drawn in sand but rather one drawn in water, so making blanket statements like yours is not a sensible approach to the issue. Each case must be considered on an individual basis.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Interesting)

Mose250 (724946) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678704)

Not really - what's the difference between this and just having a teacher walk around and glance over the kids' shoulders? The fact that VNC is used instead of a pair of eyes? Computers in schools have never been a place for completely anonymous internet access.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678748)

You can tell when a teacher walks over and is monitoring what you type, just like you can tell when someone is in the same room as you listening to a conversation.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678764)

And when VNC is being used, the icon in the system tray goes black. they can tell when they're being watched. But then, under your way of thinking, security cameras on all entrances to the school are bad as well. I mean, who cares if random strangers come on site?

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678944)

There's an enormous difference in the privacy expectations of walking into a building, and monitoring every keystroke. It's analogous to the difference between a camera at a building entrance, and a camera in a bathroom.

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678863)

Of course, when the teacher walks by to watch over the shoulder of the student then the student modifies their behaviour.

Ask yourself this:- If they modify their behaviour then doesnt that sugest they were behaving improperly in the first place?

Re:Just slightly OT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678841)

Your job = teh suxx0rz

How much of a loser are you ?

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

m.koch (703208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678853)

we actually use something similar in the school i work at. Students are monitored by the logger, [...]

To teach children that they are constantly watched and how to get around it (which they certainly will in many cases) might be a good lesson for their future life.

Re:Just slightly OT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678886)

One word.

%61%64%6D%69%6E

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Robmonster (158873) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678915)

Damn, I'd done some great moderations to this thread. I didnt realise that posting Anon would undo them all.

FWIW I consider the attacks on the parent poster flamebait. If I could mod them as such again, I would.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Interesting)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678626)

I can't think of anything that's terribly legal. I knew there was a reason I never do anything important on publically-accessible terminals. I guess it's a nice device to own if you're a bad parent with a tinfoil hat.

The question in the back of my mind on this article though: what would they have done if it was a software keylogger, instead of a hardware one? Do the wiretap laws still apply in the same capacity? I understand from TFA that the fact that it logged emails made him a target for it.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Interesting)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678781)

I can't think of anything that's terribly legal

Well, there are very few cases, but... I installed a (software) key logger on my own box in order to get the raw data needed to figure out my personal letter frequency in typing -- the standard English frequency wouldn't apply, as I do a lot of C and C++ coding. (How often do you see semi-colons, let alone curly braces, in standard English writing?)

A nice side benefit is that I could review the key log -- to see if anyone else had been using my computer.

? Re:Just slightly OT (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678785)

I can't think of anything that's terribly legal. I knew there was a reason I never do anything important on publically-accessible terminals. I guess it's a nice device to own if you're a bad parent with a tinfoil hat.

How on earth would just using the device make you "a bad parent with a tinfoil hat"?

Contrary to kid's beliefs, most parents have little interest in snooping on whether your friend Monica likes Jeff and also got new shoes, or whatever. However, it would be nice to have some forensic material available to save your ass if you get involved with something stupid.

Re:? Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678821)

How on earth would just using the device make you "a bad parent with a tinfoil hat"?
I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you misunderstood what I said, instead of only hearing what you wanted to hear. I said that it's a device that a bad parent with a tinfoil hat might find useful. Not that using the device makes you a bad parent with a tinfoil hat. Is the difference clear?

Read the AC's comment below mine, he/she states the point you're looking to refute: clicky. [slashdot.org]

Just slightly catch-22 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678903)

Now you're a "bad parent with a tinfoil hat" if you take effective measures to monitor or control your kid's internet use (at least as far as the computers you control goes)?

I thought you were a "bad parent" if you just let your kids go willy-nilly wherever they wanted unsupervised. Now if you monitor them, you're also bad. What's the solution - no internet access period?

I'd say if you're that interested and concerned about what your kid is doing, you're most likely a great parent. Granting unlimited freedom isn't good parenting. Apathy isn't good parenting.

btw, it's hardly "tinfoil hat" material to believe that your kid might encounter something you wouldn't want them to see on the net. In fact, if you believe the unfettered net is appropriate material for unsupervised children, I think you're the one who is probably wearing Reynolds Wrap.

We haven't yet seen the results of what the silver internet-in-hand generation will be like, anyway, so your notions are ass-borne, not based on observation.

Re:Just slightly OT (4, Interesting)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678648)

I mean, is there any useful use for this device at all?

Definitely. If you're a writer of some kind, install a KeyKatcher and you've got an instant backup of everything you've written. If your word processor crashes, no problem; fire up KeyKatcher and cut and paste everything you've lost. Beautiful stuff.

Re:Just slightly OT (3, Insightful)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678718)

Just pray that you haven't done anything with your mouse, moved around the cursor, formatted the text, used any weird keyboard shortcuts, or ducked out to send an IM to your girlfriend. The data on the keylogger could be a little bit munged with that bit of randomness added. :D

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Cousin Scuzzy (754180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678868)

A better method for saving your documents is the "save" function, often found under the File menu. Clicking on this once in a while is a good idea.

Re:Just slightly OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678896)

What is this File menu of which you speak?

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678900)

Were such devices able to monitor the time between strokes, they could also be used to "record" some game sessions a funny way (provided the mouse is not used, of course).

Re:Just slightly OT (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678674)

I mean, is there any useful use for this device at all?

No. Not unless you think like this:

Dear god, think of the children. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

The correct solution is called parenting. There is no substitute for parental supervision and being involved with your children's activities. You wouldn't let a child watch whatever TV station they want, completely unsupervised - so why would you do the same with an internet-enabled computer? Call me old fashioned, but I don't even think a child should be allowed access to a net-connected computer unless it's in a shared, plainly visible family room environment.

Using tricks to snoop on your kids like this will breed an attitude of distrust and paranoia. You'll also only find out what they're up to after the event. Instead of working against them, you should actively work with them.

Plus, with a software solution - you actually have to check the logs from time to time. If you care so little that you'd rather a piece of software babysat your child, eventually you'll stop reading the logs because that involves effort.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678840)

There's a report on the BBC today (sorry, at work, no link) about how British kids are getting less sleep than their parents' generation because so many children have one or more of: TV, PlayStation, PC in their bedroom. I'm in my 30s and can remember being told that "if you don't turn that radio off, you'll lose it." The idea of having a 'net connection in my bedroom boggles my mind.

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678929)

That link in full:
BBC Newsround [bbc.co.uk] - for kids! Oh the shame!

Re:Just slightly OT (1)

Jazzman (43017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678817)

I mean, is there any useful use for this device at all?

Most definitely. For example, if you are investigating a suspect system, you can use the KeyKatcher to keep track of what commands you are typing on the system. No need to install anything on the suspect system (thereby not requiring you to alter the evidence you are looking at in any way).

Re:Just slightly OT (3, Interesting)

dwave (701156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678852)

They promote their product as a technical solution to a social problem? I don't think this will work.

Friends with children who are computer literate often ask me if there's a way to limit the log on time for the children's accounts. I've no children myself but I always advice against the technical way. If there's an apparent problem (homework not being done properly, neglect of friends, socialising with the wrong kind of people etc.) parents have to dedicate time to their kids and find an agreement together. Just installing spyware and barriers won't work.

Besides, parents often underestimate their kids' knowledge and creativity to jump technicals obstacles. And I'm sure there a quite a few children who have root account on their daddy's Windows box and know a lot more about computers than dad ever would.

When will people realise (-1, Offtopic)

Fisher99 (580290) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678590)

that nobody is above the law...oh wait.

dun dun dun (-1, Flamebait)

aixou (756713) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678594)

::Generic liberal "but, but... the government is trying to kill us all" comments to follow::

Federal wiretapping charges? (5, Interesting)

pinkUZI (515787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678611)

When is the last time you remember hearing about an indictment for actual wiretapping? Doesn't it seem like people get away with wiretapping regularly? I'm thinking about things like the illegally recorded phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Or does the law specify exemption if it is done for a good cause?

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (2, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678664)


Wiretapping laws actually vary from state to state. Some states allow you to secretly record a conversation as long as you are a part of that conversation. A few states do not allow this - you have to tell people you are recording them.

In this instance, the guy at the insurance company was not a party to the conversations going on. Therefore he was obviously in danger of violating the law.

Being a whistleblower means that you call up the FBI and you let them do the investigating. Here, he was playing the role of the FBI.

Unfortunate mistake, considering that his former employers probably were/are scumbags.

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (3, Insightful)

pinkUZI (515787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678715)



How can "
federal" wiretapping laws vary from state to state? Either the laws he broke are federal laws and the so the charges are federal or they were state laws and the article should read "California wiretapping charges."

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (3, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678882)

How can "federal" wiretapping laws vary from state to state? Either the laws he broke are federal laws and the so the charges are federal or they were state laws and the article should read "California wiretapping charges."

Wiretapping laws vary state to state [rcfp.org] .

There are also federal wiretapping laws covering much the same thing. They are not mutually exclusive. It just happens that some states extend federal law.

This guy was investigated by a federal grand jury, hence federal law applies to him.

But so does state law, and he could be charged under that too. Like Linda Tripp was for recording Monica Lewinsky's calls.

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (1)

pinkUZI (515787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678940)

OK - didn't realize that Linda Tripp was prosecuted, I guess I just assumed that since the tapes were released and they appeared to consider them as evidence that no charges were pressed.

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (1)

222 (551054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678819)

Whats even more interesting is that according to him, the Dept of Insurance had encouraged his activities.
The Dept of course denies this, and i'm having to wonder if this is just a means to distance themselves from any sort of legal mess that could come along with encouraging a wiretap without a warrant. Then again, maybe im just wearing this tinfoil hat backwards.

Re:Federal wiretapping charges? (1)

pinkUZI (515787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678880)

There is probably truth to both sides. I think he probably was involved with the Department of Insurance, though I doubt they told him to install the keylogger. Looks like he got a little overzealous and the Department of Insurance is washing their hands of his activity.

This is why (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678616)

This is why you should always check your keyboard cable on your work-PC.

Not only does it keep you secure, but you might score a brand-new keylogger for free.

Yeah! (3, Funny)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678714)

I better go with a wireless keyboard! That'll stop people from capturing my keystrokes!

Re:Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678775)

Does anybody know how secure a bluetooth wireless keyboard is? They are supposed to use encryption.

Re:Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678813)

They probably use ROT-13 "encryption" -- or is that too 1337 for them?

Yes, but... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678839)

I vaguely recall an old slashdot article that said the encryption was pretty weak, if not already broken.

What a contradiction! (4, Insightful)

windex (92715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678619)

According to this politech posting by bernieS [politechbot.com] , it appears that the feds are going to be doing a little bit of double backing.

It raises an important question, I think: are keyloggers wiretapping devices? They don't involve telecommunications lines directly, so can they be considered in the same class?

Some food for thought.

Re:What a contradiction! (2, Interesting)

SmackCrackandPot (641205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678652)

A keyboard is a two way communication device. The inputs are the keys you press, and the outputs are the num lock/caps lock and scroll lock lights. In theory, you could use a keyboard to communicate with another person using Morse code with the space bar to send and the num lock light to receive them.

Re:What a contradiction! (0, Flamebait)

spacefight (577141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678777)

But then, you could use every toy laser pen as a "communication device", or even more: you could use the highway as a communication line (just send cars in morse code over it)... just kidding.

Re:What a contradiction! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678809)

In theory, you could use a keyboard to communicate with another person using Morse code with the space bar to send and the num lock light to receive them.

In practice, though, you'd likely use the alphanumeric keys conveniently provided for just this purpose.

Re:What a contradiction! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678891)

yeah, but if you tap morse code on the spacebar then their keyloggers are useless unless it also records the time between keys

Re:What a contradiction! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678705)

For the feds, that's the problem with this whole thing. If they go after the guy for illegal wiretapping, they admit that this sort of thing is wiretapping. Then they have to abide by their own rules for wiretapping when they decide to do this kind of thing.

I personally hope that this goes through, if only because it'll make the feds play nice, or let us do something about it when they won't.

It sounds like he went to far... (3, Insightful)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678623)

While his heart may have been in the right place, it sounds like he went to far. Once the class action suits started, once the state of Calif. started investigating, there was very little need for his cloak and dagger actions. The courts could have done the work. If he felt that they were tampering with evidence, destroying evidence, or not providing everything the courts demanded he could have come forward. In my view, he put his own neck on the line in a wreckless way.

Re:It sounds like he went to far... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678829)

Where is this place called "far" you mention? And why did he go there?

Oh, so it's "okay" (3, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678635)

He was collecting the names of all the insurance company's clients... So uh... so he could notify them of their ability to join the class action lawsuit!

He was... he was helping the government investigate a corrupt company, yeah! He was James Bond! Saving the innocent from themselves!

Yeah... he had no intention whatsoever of joining a competing company and stealing the client list.

Good. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678636)


"In what prosecutors say is the first case of its kind, a former insurance claims manager was indicted on federal wiretapping charges for allegedly installing a keystroke logger on another employee's computer ..."


Good. It is not the decision for just any man to make, on when to invade someones privacy. (Most) Laws exist for a reason. This man broke one. Hopefully he'll spend some time in jail.

Wiretap law - 18 USC Section 2511 (4, Informative)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678643)


Read all about it here [cornell.edu] .

Certainly contravenes EU law (4, Informative)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678660)

The EU convention on cybercrime, which is law in most (all?) EU countries since 2000 prohibits the interception of private electronic communications. A key logger would certainly fall into this category.

However, there have been very few convictions under these laws, only a couple of "hacking" cases in the UK afaiaa.

It's not only about domestic/workplace espionage. Spyware vendors (a species that rates somewhere between slimemolds and spammers) use similar techniques to spy on and report back on people's use of their computer.

This guy is an idiot..... (4, Insightful)

Doc Squidly (720087) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678677)

....He got busted when he call the company to get the device back!
Not the smartest thing to do. He deservse whatever he gets.

Re:This guy is an idiot..... (3, Funny)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678869)

Ah, but if we start basing justice on lack-of-smarts, there's no telling who'd end up with what they "deservse" ;)

Insurance Company (1)

dr. chuck bunsen (762090) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678694)

I think we all know who the real bad guy is. But this guy was asking for it. On the bright side, perhaps we will get some kind of ruling out of this to clarify the keylogger-wiretap legal grey area. Related Article [nytimes.com]

What if... (5, Insightful)

RandoMBU (740204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678712)

They were to apply federal wiretapping laws to spyware? If an unauthorized piece of software transmits information about my activities to a third party without my knowledge... that sounds like wiretapping to me.

Re:What if... (3, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678849)

In the majority of those cases, you as the user are agreeing to the installation of the spyware.

There is nothing wrong with monitoring yourself.

Remember, this case is about an individual installing monitoring other people with out their consent or knowledge.

In theory, if spyware were installed with out a note in the EULA saying so, and no other "I agree to let you know everything I do and where I go"... then yes, you could get them for wiretapping.

No, that is NOT wiretapping (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678954)


Wiretapping involves capturing information that is being sent (i.e. is already in transit), meaning the tap is between points A and B; spyware [generally] initiates and handles its own sessions, meaning points A and B are different. Spyware usually sends metadata as well: "information about [your] activities" != the actual keystrokes that were sent.

I posted this link [cornell.edu] earlier in the thread. You might want to go there and read about wiretapping.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Troll)

sofakingon (610999) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678762)

The keyboards eat YOU!

I've used a keyboard logger (5, Interesting)

spidergoat2 (715962) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678769)

We had a consultant (former employee) work at a branch office. The owner said to keep an eye on them. I want to the branch office and told every employee that I was installing a keyboard logger and why. When the consultant (former employee) logged on, they had no idea they were being tracked. I discovered they had a back door account and were logging into a supervisor account. Good or bad, I discovered the holes in my system.

Keystroke logger makes 'sensible' switch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8678856)

OK, it wasn't the Keystroke logger. sue me.

Greenpeace UK makes 'sensible' switch to Linux
Munir Kotadia
ZDNet UK
March 26, 2004, 10:45 GMT

Greenpeace UK has updated its IT systems and chosen to use Linux in three of its four systems because it was the 'sensible' choice

In a general update of its IT systems, environmental campaign group Greenpeace UK has chosen to run three of its four systems on Linux instead of Windows because the open source operating system was the "more sensible" option. The decision makes Greenpeace the latest in a long line of high-profile organisations to switch from Windows to the open-source Linux operating system.

Steve Thomson, finance and IT director at Greenpeace UK, said the organisation evaluated both Windows and Linux and decided to run its Mail server on Windows but employ Linux for its Web server, application server and general office operations system: "We looked at the two and Linux just seemed more flexible, probably cheaper and probably more sensible for these particular bits. We pick what is best for what we are doing -- there is no religious bias towards Linux or Windows," he said.

Thompson said move to a SAN would allow the organisation to manage the increase in its data storage requirements without having to keep upgrading individual servers: "Like everybody, we are going to grow the amount of data we are storing fairly dramatically and the most flexible answer was to get a SAN. Server upgrades will become fewer and far between -- we hope," he said.

Another reason for the change was to reduce the overall complexity of the Greenpeace IT system, which previously also included Windows NT, Unix and Novell servers. "Having only two operating systems is an advantage after effectively running five," said Thompson.

The choices made by Greenpeace reflect an increasingly common move by IT departments to deploy Linux where it has already proved to be more versatile, secure and cheaper -- despite attempts by Microsoft to convince people otherwise.

Tight Security (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 10 years ago | (#8678966)

So he just walked over and installed it on her PC. She should've had xlock running while she was away.

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