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Friday 23 March 2007

6 year-old puts keylogger on MPs computer

Basingstoke gazette
By Jon Reeve

IT sounds too far-fetched for even the most fanciful of spy novels.

However, in this time of heightened terrorist alert, when the House of Commons is under constant guard from any sort of attack, a six-year-old girl from Winchester was able to hack into the parliamentary computer system.

It took the youngster, who has little knowledge of computers, just 15 seconds to seriously breach security using a simple device that can be easily, and legally, bought on the Internet.

The information she could have gathered after successfully bugging an MP's computer includes confidential passwords, top-secret files and sensitive personal details.

As part of a BBC investigation due to be shown tonight, the girl smuggled a £50 keylogger into one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the country.

With security focussed on keeping guns and bombs out, she walked past the armed police and through X-ray searches and no one batted an eyelid.

Once inside, the producers of Inside Out convinced MP Anne Milton to leave her computer unattended for just 60 seconds. Within a quarter of that time the youngster had successfully fitted the device.

Although a bug had just been attached to a machine within the House of Commons, not one alarm was raised.

Keyloggers, which are increasingly being used by hi-tech criminals and fraudsters, fit at the back of a computer and are designed not to be noticed by its owner. Once fitted, they record every piece of information typed into the keyboard for up to six months, which can include passwords, bank details or credit card numbers.

To retrieve the information the hacker simply needs a few seconds at a later date to remove the device.

Ms Milton told the programme, which is presented by Chris Packham, that she was shocked at how easily her computer was compromised.

"It really surprises me," said the Conservative MP for Guildford. "It's the speed, the size of the device and the ease with which it was attached to my computer. It's frightening to discover that someone can so easily spy on what you're doing without you knowing about it."

The House of Commons refused to comment on the security breach.

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