Reports claim that law enforcement agencies have been distributing a piece of software named ComputerCop as a way to protect children online. The problem is that the software includes a keylogger, which can record every keystroke that a user makes.
Police software offering: The dangers of keylogging
Keyloggers are more commonly known as a hacking tool used to spy on activity and steal information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported that the inclusion of a keylogger in the software could “expose its users to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.”
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The idea of ComputerCop is to allow parents to record their children’s online chats and receive a copy by email. The problem that EFF discovered is that the emails are sent through third-party servers which don’t have encryption. Researcher Dave Maass was troubled by the lack of encryption because strangers can spy on a child’s conversations if their computer is connected to a public wireless network.
However it is not only children who are at risk. In his report Maass claims that “law enforcement agencies are passing around what amounts to a spying tool that could easily be abused by people who want to snoop on spouses, roommates, or coworkers.”
ComputerCop Corp responds
The New York-based company has been selling software for over ten years, and president Stephen DelGiorno admitted that some editions did include a key logging feature.
However he went on to specify that users are always reminded of the presence of a keylogger, and that the feature only activates when a user types certain sensitive words related to sex or drugs.
“We’re not trying to be a spy tool,” he told HuffPost. “That was absolutely not our intention.”
The EFF announced that the software had been distributed by 245 law enforcement agencies in over 35 states.
The foundation went on to recommend that parents concerned about online security should install “HTTPS Everywhere,” a plug-in developed by EFF which connects a web browser to secure versions of websites by default.