Security Experts:

HP Removes Keylogger Functionality From Audio Drivers

HP informed users on Friday that it has updated audio drivers for some of its laptops and tablet PCs to remove keylogger functionality discovered by security researchers.

Swiss security firm Modzero warned on Thursday that an application installed on many HP devices with Conexant audio drivers logged keystrokes in a file and transmitted them to a debugging API, allowing a local user or process to easily access passwords and other potentially sensitive data typed by users.

The vulnerability, identified as CVE-2017-8360, has been found to affect 28 HP laptops and tablet PCs, including EliteBook, ProBook, Elite X2 and ZBook models. Devices from other vendors that use hardware and drivers from Conexant could be affected as well, but the audio chip maker has yet to provide any information.

The keylogging capabilities are part of a keystroke monitoring functionality designed to determine if the user has pressed any special audio keys (e.g. mute/unmute).

Researchers said there was no evidence that the keylogging functionality had been implemented intentionally, and noted that it was likely a result of negligence.

“If the developer would just disable all logging, using debug-logs only in the development environment, there wouldn't be problems with the confidentiality of the data of any user,” said Thorsten Schroeder, the expert who found the bug.

HP has released an update for the audio driver, and it has promised to publish a security advisory providing more details. The company claims the bug does not allow it to access customer data.

“Our supplier partner developed software to test audio functionality prior to product launch and it should not have been included in the final shipped version,” HP stated.

Some keylogger functionality has existed since at least version 1.0.0.31, released in December 2015. Keystrokes have been logged to a file since October 2016, when version 1.0.0.46 was made available.

The issue has been addressed with the release of version 10.0.931.90. Users can obtain the update from hp.com by searching for the latest audio driver for their model.

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.