HP accused of spying on its customers through stealthy telemetry app
CIA, NSA and other secret services might be expected to spy on citizens with sneaky mobile phone exploits or “bugged” networking hardware, but end users often trust that the devices they buy from their preferred OEMs will not all of a sudden spy on them through some disguised security app. Moreover, this would be even less expected of a respectable company like HP. According to a report revealed by Computerworld.com, HP is now involved in the controversy of installing spyware on its clients’ systems, and this could have happened with the aid of a supposedly unaware Microsoft. The culprit in question is said to be an app named “HP Touchpoint Analytics Service” that gets installed without the consent of the end users. Apparently, this app replaced the older HP Touchpoint Manager through a driver update issued by Microsoft on November 15, 2017, and is reportedly hogging system resources while sending user data to HP’s servers.
One user posted a report on the HP discussion boards, noting that “on 11/18/2017 Hp Touchpoint Analytics Client was installed on my computer without my consent. I’m assuming it was installed in the background as an update to HP support or framework. However it happened I don’t appreciate it’s sneaky takeover of my computer’s system resources. From yesterday to today it’s been making my computer work so hard I can hear it like cranking away and the light in the back of my computer is flashing rapidly in-tune with the cranking. In Task Manager I can see it starting and stopping numerous applications, it’s client service and installer, console window host, command prompts, timeout-pause command prompt, it’s causing a lot of up and down use of antimalware service executable and local system.”
Since HP seems to have managed to secure broad consent through the contract users sign when they buy an HP system, the real issue here looks to be the lack of full user control on the said systems after the acquisition. HP is expected to release an official statement on this issue, as users are now trying to forcibly remove the problematic app, which could prevent the HP systems from functioning properly.