02. 27. 2007
How to beat the SnoopStick
This week and last there have been many blogs writing up a little USB device allowing parents to snoop on their children. It's called the SnoopStick and uses a client-server setup to allow for remote access to a child's d. Concerned parents simply plug the SnoopStick into a target PC and install the monitoring software. The USB stick can be plugged into a different PC to establish a connection to the remote PC; it essentially works as a key so the parent doesn't need to remember web addresses or passwords. The parent can monitor computer usage in real time, but also view logs of web usage, email sent, and instant message conversations. There's even a "Social Block" for one button blocking of social networking sites, and a line item for blacklisting individual web addresses.
The typical program used by black hat ninjas for this type of surreptitious monitoring is a backdoor trojan or a modified copy of VNC running in stealth mode. This isn't new technology, but it does make things a bit simpler for the unskilled eavesdropper, and the SnoopStick can easily be used for alternative purposes. Solid Oak has protected the company from the customary accusations of social irresponsibility by choosing not to include a keylogger within the SnoopStick software, and admitting that there are some things that no honest user needs to monitor.
Because this isn't new technology it isn't much of a threat, and any child old enough to use a computer unassisted will be able to easily disable the software upon realization that Big Brother is watching over a shoulder. Symantec has the software registered as spyware in the virus definitions from February 22nd onward, and their website also includes full removal instructions in case an amateur decides to snoop you out.
Just FYI, for a temporary fix there are several online virus scanners that can clean out this and similar threats, and there are also several freely downloadable permanent anti-virus programs such as avast! and AVG. It's better to be safe than sorry.