Are Samsung laptops shipping with software that will monitor your every keystroke, as one security researcher claimed Wednesday? We can't say for sure, but we couldn't find any trace of spying software on the one Samsung laptop in PCWorld's Lab.
On Wednesday, researcher Mohammad Hassan claimed to have found StarLogger keylogging software installed on two brand-new Samsung R Series laptops. Hassan says he found the spyware when he was initially setting up the laptops. When he contacted Samsung support, a manager told Hassan the StarLogger keylogger was installed to "monitor the performance of the machine and to find out how it is being used."
The PCWorld Lab has a 13" Samsung Series 9 ultraportable laptop in for testing and review, so we decided to run a rigorous malware scan to see if we could confirm Hassan's allegations. (Samsung told the IDG News Service's Robert McMillan that they are investigating the claims.)
After unboxing the Series 9 review unit (identical to the Series 9 laptop a consumer would purchase from their local retailer) and making a backup copy of everything on the hard drive, our laptop analysts installed a copy of Norton Internet Security 2011 and updated it with the latest virus definitions and security updates. We subjected the Samsung Series 9 to a full scan and it passed with flying colors; PCWorld laptop editor Jason Cross also scanned the registry for the keys typically left behind by StarLogger, but found nothing.
We will continue to test the Samsung Series 9 and future Samsung laptops for any sign of malicious software, and will keep you updated with any further information from our lab or Samsung representatives. Look for our testing results and full review of the Samsung Series 9 next week.
Update: A Samsung spokesperson gave the following statement to PCWorld on 3/31/2011: "“Reports that a keylogger was installed in Samsung laptops are not true. Our findings indicate that the person mentioned in the article used a security program called VIPRE that mistook a folder created by Microsoft Live Application for a key logging software, during a virus scan.” Our tests and the tests of F-Secure Security Labs confirm that Samsung is not selling laptops infected with malicious key logging software.