Another suspected computer crime at UH

Last year at this time, a UH Manoa graduate student in the Geography Department surprised a would-be burglar in his office. The burglar ran, and in the chase dropped his backpack. Inside were burglary tools and electronic parts that may have been part of a surveillance system.

On Friday, a USB key logger was discovered in a Saunders Hall computer lab, also in the Geography Department, according to a email alert send out by staff in the College of Social Sciences.

When attached to a computer, a key logger simply records everything that is typed and saves it to its own internal memory to be retrieved later. It can be used to steal confidential information such as accounts and passwords. It doesn’t require any additional software to be installed on the computer, so it can be put in place quickly and easily.

Here’s what the device would look like when installed.

The room where the device was discovered is used for the department’s lecture series, according to its web site.

The email alert advised “anyone who may have entered their personal passwords while using Saunders 443B within the last few weeks to change their passwords now.”

In addition, it suggested that when using any public computer, “as a precaution against future risks you may want inspect your keyboard connection to ensure that a key logger is not attached.”

3 responses to “Another suspected computer crime at UH

  1. doesn’t seem like the photo is loading or linked.
    did campus security post a report yet?

  2. To answer the comment above, no it has not been reported to Campus Security.
    I will check into it tomorrow morning, and get out a message on our web site.

    Captain Don Dawson
    UH Campus Security

  3. be prepared!

    My how times have changed. And I think that this perceptive blog entry of yours — even campus security missed this crime! — might have missed the significance of the crime.

    This is not just a novel type of crime, but might become THE primary type of crime.

    Let me point out all the things in my house that can be stolen handily.

    1. A 21-inch, 15-year-old Sony Trinitron television that I tried to give away but which nobody wants. (I also own an “old” 27-inch Phillips that someone gave to us for free, but which cannot be stolen because it must weigh 100 pounds.)

    2. A 10-year-old, region-free DVD player bought new for about $100-$150.

    3. A 20-year-old VCR.

    4. A five-year old toaster bought for $60.

    5. A 10-year-old computerized rice cooker.

    6. A pricey (?) aluminum wok from France.

    7. A three-year-old Dell computer with $10 speakers.

    8. An older (?) 10-inch Samsung laptop.

    9. A year-old iPad.

    10. Old books, CDs (remember those?) and DVDs that no one would be interested in (no blockbuster movies or pornography in my house).

    That’s it. The sum total value of all the things that could be easily stolen from my house — excluding the iPad, which has depreciated in value rapidly — is perhaps worth less that $100. TOTAL. It would not be worth a thief’s time to rob my house.

    Now, I do own things less easily stolen, like this uncomfortable futon couch that was given to me because the person who bought it found out that it is uncomfortable. It is a vexed piece of furniture that needs replacing. The funny thing is, since getting the iPad, the idea of replacing the couch has disappeared because the couch is less used.

    So even the (few) bulky items in my house that were worth hundreds or thousands of dollars are of less value to not just myself, but probably to others as well. They might be worthless.

    The only thing worth stealing would be my financial records and personal information.

    My understanding is that this is especially true of the younger generation, who are shifting their consumer habits from big stuff they can show off (cars, houses, furniture) to mobile technology. They might not realize how that technology makes them vulnerable to theft.

    Our habits of safety have not changed. We lock the door of our house, but we publish on our blog “Today is my mother Jane Doe’s birthday!” Not a good idea to have that information out there. So instead of birthdays, it might be better to publicly celebrate “name days”, as they do in much of the world.

    I hope you have a happy June 24th!

    Birthdays, addresses, middle names, maiden names, the information on personal checks — all this needs to be treated differently now.

    As Einstein said, everything has changed except the way we think.

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