Feeds

Lexmark denies spyware allegations

No black helicopters here, says printer outfit

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Lexmark has firmly denied installing spyware on its customers' computers, after allegations appeared on a Usenet newsgroup that its printers install software that sends personal information back to the company.

The poster, calling himself Commander, writes on the comp.periphs.printers Usenet newsgroup, that while he was installing a new Lexmark printer, he noticed that a program called Lx_CATS had been added to the program files directory. He determined that it was programmed to collect data on his printing and scanning habits and send it to a domain owned by Lexmark at 30 day intervals. He added: "Furthermore, it is embedded into the system registry, so average users would likely never know it was there and active."

He states that Lexmark did not ask his permission to install the program, or to gather this information at any time during the installation. He adds that when he called Lexmark to complain, the company originally denied all knowledge of the program, only to cough to it when confronted with his evidence.

Lexmark UK has issued a statement in response to the allegations: "Lexmark Connect is a voluntary program that is fully disclosed to all users during the installation process for a new printer. During this process, a registration screen will appear that will allow the user to choose to participate, or not participate in this program. A user MUST review this page and click "continue", or the registration process will not install the program or the printer."

Fair enough, but it looks on the following screen grab like both the registration and Lexmark Connect options are "opt-out", so you have to physically deselect the latter to avoid being registered in the programmme. We asked Lexmark to confirm but this the company had not been able to do so at time of publication.

Tick the box

The company also denies collecting personal information. It says Lexmark Connect merely tracks printing habits, such as the number of pages printed, amount of ink used, and how frequently product features are used so that it can "understand our customers printing habits and needs better".

However, there is some debate on the newsgroup over the purity of Lexmark's intentions. Commander argues that while Lexmark maintains no personal information is gathered, "the program transmits the printer serial number, and when I registered the warranty with Lexmark, they recorded my personal information along with the serial number. How hard is it to match the two?"

Another poster responds: "It's obvious Lexmark has punctured your tinfoil hat without your knowledge". Indeed. Black helicopters on standby. ®

Related stories

Lexmark suffers setback in DMCA case
Lexmark recalls 40,000 laser printers
HP builds inkjet R&D centre in Ireland

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.