Hidden Keylogger in Touchpad Driver Puts HP Laptop Users at Risk

Today’s topics include the discovery of a hidden keylogger in a keyboard driver used in HP laptops; Microsoft’s beta release of the Quantum Development Kit; Microsoft investing $50 million for AI-enabled environmental research; and Google increasing their number of managed service provider partners for cloud services.

Users of a number of different HP laptops are being urged to update drivers, after security researcher Michael Myng revealed on Twitter Dec. 6 a potential keylogger risk with the integrated Synaptics Touchpad driver. A cyber-criminal or malicious insider could use the keylogger vulnerability to capture keystrokes on an exploited device.

"HP was advised of an issue that exists with Synaptics' touchpad drivers that impacts all Synaptics OEM partners," HP told eWEEK. "HP uses Synaptics' touchpads in some of its mobile PCs and has worked with Synaptics to provide fixes to their error for impacted HP systems, available in the security bulletin on HP.com."

HP quietly released an advisory and patches for the touchpad keylogger issue on Nov. 7. On Dec. 7 Myng published a full technical writeup on the Synaptics Touchpad driver as integrated by HP in over a hundred different laptop models.

Microsoft has launched a free beta version of its Quantum Development Kit, which includes the Q# programming language and a simulator for developers who are not experts in quantum physics but are interested in creating programs for quantum computers.

To drum up interest in and lower barriers to entry to quantum programming, the development kit is "deeply integrated into Visual Studio, Microsoft's suite of developer tools, so aspects of it will be familiar to people who are already developing applications in other programming languages," said Microsoft representative Allison Linn.

"And it's designed to work with a local quantum simulator, also released as part of the kit, that can simulate around 30 logical qubits of quantum computing power using a typical laptop computer."

As an expansion to Microsoft’s AI for Earth program announced in July, Microsoft will invest $50 million over the next five years to make artificial intelligence technologies available to researchers and organizations that are working to protect and improve the environment.

The initiative initially primarily focused on agriculture, biodiversity, water scarcity and, of course, climate change. In October, Microsoft expanded the program to include research on the world’s oceans and related problems, including pollution, rising sea levels and increasing acidity. Now Microsoft is investing $50 million to further grow the program.

"First, we'll expand seed grants around the world to create and test new AI applications," said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft. The company will "provide universities, nongovernmental organizations and others with advanced training to put AI to its best use," he added.

Google has increased the number of managed service providers it is partnering with to help enterprises migrate and manage workloads on its cloud infrastructure. Among its new partners are Accenture, Pythian, RightScale, SADA Systems and Taos, bringing the total number of MSP partnerships to 12.

Zoltan Szabadi, head of MSP Partners at Google Cloud, said Google is expanding its partnerships because "MSPs can tackle high-touch projects, covering engagement to migration and execution, to post-planning and ongoing optimization. At a minimum, all of Google's MSP partners will provide consulting and assessment services.”

Szabadi added that “Google will help organizations implement cloud workloads as well as monitor and optimize them. All of the partners will also offer round the clock multi-tiered support services using Google certified support staff and offer formal service level assurances to customers.”