HP's spy out in the cold

The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion's errant Netropa multimedia keyboard driver, stigmatised as "spyware" does not even get its pings as far as their apparent destination, says HP New Zealand spokeswoman Pamela Bonney.

The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion’s errant Netropa multimedia keyboard driver, stigmatised as “spyware” (see HP bins 'spying' keyboard driver) does not even get its pings as far as their apparent destination, says HP New Zealand spokeswoman Pamela Bonney.

Computerworld was puzzled as to why the pings from the keyboard, outgoing signals at about one a second, were being directed at the IP address 207.26.131.137, which belongs to Worldcom subsidiary ANS Communications, in the US.

HP was unable to answer this question by deadline last week. But Bonney now says the address was apparently chosen randomly by Netropa, and the packets sent out were never intended to get there. They are set with a “time-to-live of 1”, she says, so they expire after hitting the first routing device beyond the user’s PC.

The purpose of the pings is just to ascertain whether the PC has a functioning internet connection, she says; they were not intended to reach any destination. And, as she said last week, they include no information about the user or the user’s activities.

Users have still complained that the pings get in the way of legitimate communication, and resulted in unexplained traffic, and in some cases extra charges for times when the machine was not being actively used.

As reported last week, the driver has been withdrawn and a version without the pings is available from HP’s website.

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