Chris Pirillo, Dell, and keyloggers.

I was talking to my friend about my progress in assembling parts and warrantees into an affordable, yet high-performance Dell desktop. He responded by saying that Chris Pirillo of TechTV fame had done a thing where he opened up a dell laptop and found a black box inside that was revealed to be a keylogger. Dell apparently refused to comment on the subject leaving behind a moist, steaming mystery.

I’ve searched Google as well as Chris Pirillo’s blog and I couldn’t find anything mentioning this. My friend subscribes to his newsletter and says that the story was published there.

Has anyone else heard of this? I trust my friend otherwise, but I’m still pretty skeptical here.

Skeptical and rightly so.

Color me whooshed. :rolleyes:

I really like this part:

I happen to REALLY be a EE by trade. I find it hard to believe a real EE would confuse a microchip PIC (which is a microcontroller) with a programmable interrupt controller (a chip that also just happens to be called a PIC, but bears no resemblence at all to anything made by microchip). For the non-EE’s out there, this is basically the equivalent of getting the insect beetle and the volkswagon beetle confused simply because they both have the same name.

The bit about it connecting directly to the ethernet chip was equally amusing.

By the way, you really could make a keylogger out of those chips.

Hobbyists might know the PIC microcontroller as the heart of the BASIC Stamp. It, indeed, has nothing whatsoever to do with programmable interface controllers.

Finally, to muddy the acronymic waters even further, software guys usually expand PIC to Position-Independent Code, which has nothing whatsoever to do with this thread.

Some info on the specific PIC model mentioned in the quote.

Why bother with the expense of putting in a bit of equipment when a software keylogger would do exactly the same thing for next to nothing? It’d be simple enough to hide it from the user (especially since Dell sells to the general public, who aren’t going to search through the services to figure out what every process is).

It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Also, the Lockergnome has never seemed like the brightest LED on the status panel to me, so I wouldn’t expect him to discover something. Patrick Norton, maybe, but not Chris Pirillo.

Oh Pirillo, Norton, Laporte… How the mighty have fallen. Is there a Tech TV withdrawl clinic nearby?

Your wish is my command.

The cable is all wrong, as well. I’ve not seen round cable like that or a laptop keyboard since the days of 360k floppies. Laptop keyboard wiring is one or two flat ribbons.

Other reports say the typeface in the DHS letters is mis-matched.

This smells really fishy from several directions.

Indeed, most software keyloggers are loaded as drivers and do not have a process of their own, so they don’t show in the Task List. Microsoft’s DDK, for instance, includes an example keyboard driver with source code. If the output log was encrypted, even an expert user might never realize that one was installed.