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Hardware keyloggers found in Manchester library PCs

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Hardware keyloggers have been discovered in public libraries in Greater Manchester.

Two USB devices, attached to keyboard sockets on the back of computers in Wilmslow and Handforth libraries, would have enabled baddies to record every keystroke made on compromised PCs. It's unclear who placed the snooping devices on the machines but the likely purpose was to capture banking login credentials on the devices prior to their retrieval and use in banking fraud.

A third detected device was discovered but disappeared before it was turned over to local police, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Many members of the public use library computer access either for convenience or because they don't have a computer at home. The targeted libraries are in up-market districts on the southern outskirts of Greater Manchester. A BBC report on the incident has footage of one of the affected computers. The presumed scam, which had been going on for an as yet undetermined period, was only rumbled after staff examined one of the compromised PCs, which had begun misbehaving.

Library staff have been advised to keep a close eye on computers to help prevent the reccurrence of similar incidents in future. In addition, rules have been revised so that USB keyboards are plugged into the more visible front ports of a computer rather than its rear. PCs in Manchester libraries come fitted with net-nanny software and accounts that limit the ability of users to install software on machines. Cybercrooks have apparently found a way around these restrictions using hardware keyloggers, which are readily available at prices of around £30 or less.

The two confiscated devices are being examined by Cheshire police’s hi-tech crime unit. ®

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