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Keyloggers on HP laptops: should you be worried?

keyloggers hp laptops
You can always tell the dodgy ones - they've got a big sign saying "Security" hanging above them

Chances are that, if you own an HP laptop, it has a hidden keylogger installed by default. But before you panic and rip it apart, don’t worry: not only is the news about a keylogger being found on HP laptops nothing to get distressed about, it’s also easy to solve. If you decide you need to.

The first thing to say is that nothing malevolent has happened, and that HP isn’t actually to blame. Note its statement says, “A potential security vulnerability has been identified with certain versions of Synaptics touchpad drivers that impacts all Synaptics OEM partners.” In other words, “Not us guv!”

Synaptics is, among other things, the company that makes the software that powers the touchpads in pretty much every laptop out there. Why does it want to log your keystrokes? Well, it doesn’t – this is a bug, a hangover from the point at which Synaptics’ engineers were testing its software.

Also note this isn’t the kind of keylogger that can send your information over the internet to malicious forces. It’s saved to a file stored on your laptop’s hard disk. In the grand scheme of Big Risks To Your Privacy, it’s about the size of Pee-wee Herman.

Which HP laptops have keyloggers installed?

Well, hundreds of models. If you head down the HP support page that details the affected machines, you’ll see HP Pavilion, HP Envy, HP Omen, HP Spectre, HP Stream… pretty much every model I can think of from the past five years.

However, it isn’t just HP that will be affected. Over the next few days I’d expect Acer, Dell, Lenovo et al to release some kind of comment about what they’re doing to update the software.

What can I do about the keylogger on my HP laptop?

If you’re worried, then search for your HP laptop’s model number on the support page I mention above, then download the file next to its name.

But frankly I wouldn’t bother. This will be dealt with in an upcoming Windows Update, which brings me to the key point: unless you have very good reasons not to, keep Windows Update set to automatic. This is exactly the kind of bug/problem/attack that it will keep you protected from.

Read this next: How do I check which version of Windows I’m running – and force an update?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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