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  Avoid my uni's keyloggers 
 Date Written 
None None Dec 05, 2007, 08:57am EST Report Abuse
Dear Everybody,

I go to a high-ranked computing program in the UK (now u know which), which feels that security is the world and then some! I bet they would sell me as a slave if that meant free security guards for a year! Because they got a fair number of those.

Anyways, the computing department feels it's their obligation to spy on its users. This includes logging everything besides the actual content of what's being downloaded, literally, so they log all the keystrokes you do on the computers, all IPs you visit/connect to, all of the file-names you download etc. It's the same for the halls, besides the keyloggers because I got my own computers.

The problem I have with this is that they are actually saving all my passwords as they go! Even though they have obviously encrypted it, it means that my password and everyone else's passwords are dependant on that single encryption. Sure, it would take a while to break it if they are using e.g. AES/Blowfish/Serpent/Twofish/whatever, but it's also the feeling that some dude with that password has access to whatever account I log into given some time to shift through the logs.

They are using Kubuntu 6.10 as far as I know... I'm not that into linux world, but how exactly can I obfuscate or otherwise disable their logging? I'm fairly sure it's not a series of hardware loggers since I haven't found any extra extensions to any keyboard, so they must be processes... I guess I could send keystrokes to Linux from a program I program myself to intersperse the whole log with fake keystrokes, but that would obviously then do those keystrokes as well...

I'm thinking if someone knows a way to monitor which processes are sending information/storing information as I type? Linux is supposedly possible to debug to 6 levels or something so somewhere somehow I should be able to get what process is doing it, right?

I google for keylogger and only hacking/spying activities come up -- or is this actually one of the few unis that admit what they are doing? Or perhaps one of the few that's doing it?

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Ross McFarland Dec 05, 2007, 10:40am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
I know this is of no use to you, but I thought I would mention I find it a very interesting topic.

Reading through some Linux and Kubuntu forums I see that by default all this key-stroke information can be very easily traced and stored* and it requires software to transform it into something a little more manageable for Johnny Admin to read through.

*I won't attempt to name where, I am a Linux Noob but I think they were talking about /var/ or /bin/ or something.

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Beavis Khan Dec 05, 2007, 10:51am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
Knoppix? Although I'd assume if they're going to bother with keyloggers they're going to prevent you from booting off CD...

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

- H.L. Mencken
None None Dec 05, 2007, 11:27am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
Thanks for your replies...

Ross: Indeed, it is interesting. I can imagine it would be very good to turn on should I ever take a job as a software tester, because trying to crash software very often demands determinism, so then I would be able to retrace my steps through the keylogger (and a small program registering mouseclicks and saving screenshots per mouseclick for example). But turned against you is another matter.

I actually think they send it directly to a server over the network through a non file-protocol, but I can't be sure, obviously; because they need to know whos typing they're looking at and wouldn't /var/ && /bin/ be per machine as opposed to per user?

Beavis: Yeah, that's right. They are also clustering the computers as a big "super"computer, so I'm not allowed to turn them off. It's also possible to VPN/SSH into the computers which means that there may be any number of users on a single machine at a given moment... Plus, they got video cameras everywhere so they'd see me turning it off, plus the whole development environment is on those comps plus the fact that they got custom callable programs installed which I need to use... (Like postgresql etc)

Beavis Khan Dec 05, 2007, 11:42am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers guess is you're basically SOL then, unless you want to risk getting suspended/expelled for screwing with the uni computer system. Unless you can disable the keylogger without allowing logging of the keystrokes necessary to do that, you'd be giving them evidence of your misbehavior... :/

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

- H.L. Mencken
None None Dec 05, 2007, 11:50am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
Well, you're wrong really, since there are stuff like GUIs nowadays which makes it harder to reproduce what exactly I'm doing, besides I could launch it through another legitimate process or through a REST web service or a data stream or whatever. The point being that I'm not talking about killing processes, but just fooling it, which per definition isn't tampering with _it_.

Btw... what does SOL mean?

Imagine using a TOR circuit to SSH with SSL/TLS encryption into a computer into another country then downloading copyrighted material; they'd never know and from merely doing that connection without the downloading I'm not breaching any contracts what so ever.

Similarily, if I just intercept the traffic or somehow send faux keystrokes (I can just say I got spams!), I'm not tampering with the computer per definition, as when I close my process the effect wears off. :) Plus, I want to get tips on HOW to do it not saying that I WILL...! It's simply a grey area and I consider it just as bad behaviour to log keystrokes, which I think should obviously be illegal and punished with jail max. 2 years, just as saving other people's passwords un-hashed should be!

I mean, look at the government here putting a camera in everyone's face "for anti-terrorist reasons", still managing to loose 25 million children's and parent's personal details by sending it through the mail!

Beavis Khan Dec 05, 2007, 01:33pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
SOL =s**t outta luck

I didn't say there was no way around the keyloggers - just that you weren't likely to make it happen. By all means, have at it, but the fact that you're soliciting advice in a forum like this says to me that you're going to get caught if you try anything silly. I'm not defending the university's behavior - I think it's deplorable, as it happens. Just be sure you're willing to risk your education if you do try to circumvent the keyloggers.

Edit - FWIW, this post was not meant to be an insult. Just as a dose of reality. Sometimes I'm a little more blunt than is advisable.

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

- H.L. Mencken
None None Dec 05, 2007, 03:24pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: Avoid my uni's keyloggers
Yeah, I would definitely be more secretive and less outspoken if I really was gonna do something breaking rules, but I'm really fed up with people either not caring, saying "well, I don't care if I'm not doing anything illegal" and/or laughing at me for caring or simply failing to grasp the concept. I just need some mental support really. Deplorable was a good word btw. It's about principles which seems non-existent for most people.

Still interested in advice though.



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