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11/14/2004 Archived Entry: "Lexmark printers spying on customers?"

IS YOUR LEXMARK PRINTER SPYING ON YOU? Unconfirmed so far, but it appears to be so.

Here's one of the original user reports:

I received this report with no additional info that would allow anyone to verify it:

Just the other day I purchased a new Lexmark X5250 All-in-one printer. I installed it as per the instructions and monitored the install with Norton as I do with all new software.

On reviewing the install log I noticed a program called Lx_CATS had been placed in the c:\program files directory. I investigated and found a data log and an initialisation file called Lx_CATS.ini. Further investigation of this file showed that Lexmark had, without my permission, loaded a Trojan backdoor on to my computer. Furthermore, it is embedded into the system registry, so average users would likely never know it was there and active.

This Lexmark Trojan was programmed to monitor my use of the printer by way of data collected from two DLLs in the c:\program files\lexmark500 folder. The Trojan would then send information on printer usage, including types of print activity, scanning activity, OCR activity etc., back to a hidden URL at 30 day intervals.

The URL, www.lxkcc1.com, is identified as being owned by Lexmark.

When I called and spoke with Lexmark support, they denied all knowledge of any such program, and suggested I had somehow been infected by a virus. When I challenged them with the facts, they ultimately aknowleged that this was indeed activity tracking software that reported printer and cartridge use back to them for "survey" purposes. Lexmark said that "no personal data" was relayed by the program, and that I could not be personally identified by it. However - the program transmits the printer serial number, and when I registered the warranty with Lexmark, they recorded my personal information along with the serial number. How much effort does it take to match the two?

I call it spying! I was not advised of this part of the installation, nor was I asked to agree to be part of any such data gathering activity. I see this as a breach of my privacy, and as deplorable behaviour by Lexmark.

Lexmark users beware! But, they may not be the only ones stealing your private information.

Posted by Claire @ 06:05 PM CST

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