or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Spy-Tech Devices Found in Library

   February 15th, 2011

USB KeyloggerDid you read the story about a library in England that found two devices, designed to steal patron information, plugged into their computers?

It almost sounds like an urban legend, but even if it were it's still a good remind to all of us that this could happen anywhere.

The devices are USB keyloggers - someone would unplug the keyboard from the computer, plug the keyboard into this device, and then plug it back into the keyboard's USB port. With this device between the keyboard and computer, it can record every keystroke made on the computer - including websites visited, username/password combinations, credit information, etc.

The best defense against this is for library staff to check for these, or anything attached to a library computer that shouldn't be there. The article also suggest plugging keyboards into the front of computers, to make spotting them easier.

To notice something like this, of course, library staff must be familiar with what should and what shouldn't be there. I don't mean to be all preachy, but this is a good opportunity to familiarize staff who may not be really tech-savvy with library equipment. And another thing: take a few minutes today and check all of the computers in your library.

Thanks Dale for sending this to me, and it was also on LISNews.

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10 Responses to “Spy-Tech Devices Found in Library”

  1. Amy L. Campbell Says:

    D: This is pretty upsetting.

  2. A Passion For 'Puters » Blog Archive » IT security in libraries Says:

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  3. » Spotting a Keylogger in Public Access Computers Reference at Newman Library Says:

    […] couple of librarian blogs (see posts at the Swiss Army Librarian and Librarian.net) have recently pointed to this story about a library in England where a couple of […]

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by polly, Vicky Leather. Vicky Leather said: RT @pollyalida: Good advice here: Spy-Tech Devices Found in Library http://ow.ly/3XTeC […]

  5. Jmnoizez Says:

    It’s very believable and nothing like an urban legend. And at what point did you think you sounded “all preachy”? Please write intelligably and stay away from cliche phrases that you don’t understand.

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Jmnoizez: I don’t doubt this happened – I meant it exhibited the characteristics of an urban legend – something incredible happening somewhere else (so as to make it almost unverifiable), has a significant impact and yet is very easy to fall prey to. But you’re right, for all of that, it is believable, which is why I posted it here.

    As for sounding preachy, I meant that I don’t presume I can issue an edict and all librarians across the land will follow it. I do think it’s a good idea for libraries to check for things like this, but I don’t feel it is my place to lecture my colleagues on how to run their libraries. I like talking about what I do, but only every reluctantly suggest anyone follow suit.

    In the future, I’ll try to be less obtuse – I’m sorry for the confusion.

  7. rharris22805 Says:

    What’s up Jmnoizez’s butt????

  8. Liz Says:

    Am I alone in appreciating the irony of someone comibining the phrase “stay away from cliche phrases that you don’t understand” with a word that doesn’t exist (“intelligably”)?

    I hope this post isn’t too confusimating. I know sometimes I have a tendamacy to write in an obfuscutrationalist manner. Please accept my aposomagies in advance.

  9. Liz Says:

    My bad – it was just misspelled. Upon rereading I think he meant intelligIbly.

    (Snark cheerfully withdrawn)

  10. Brian Herzog Says:

    @rharris22805 & @Liz: I’m sure it was a simple misunderstanding – no harm no foul