In Network World‘s Security Strategies Alert newsletter, Mohamed Hassan details his discovery of StarLogger keyloggers on several different Samsung laptops.

Keyloggers record every keystroke on a computer’s keyboard and email them to a recipient. This keylogger was hidden and pre-loaded on the computers he tested, making it a significant step beyond the “Sony BMG rootkit fiasco” from 2005. There, keyloggers were loaded onto users’ computers from music CDs with the ostensible goal of limiting illegal music use.

The Sony keylogger incident was taken to court and the company forced to pay out $575 million to users who had experienced security issues after trying to remove the program.

After using a commercial security program, Hassan found the keylogger in the c:windowsSL directory of his laptop.

Hassan decribes how the Starlogger program works:

“This key logger is completely undetectable and starts up whenever your computer starts up. See everything being typed: emails, messages, documents, web pages, usernames, passwords, and more. StarLogger can email its results at specified intervals to any email address undetected so you don’t even have to be at the computer.”

The newsletter’s editor Mich Kabay says they contacted three PR reps at Samsung but, after a week of waiting, have yet to receive a response. Will this trigger a class-action lawsuit, as he thinks? I wouldn’t bet against it.

UPDATED: I might bet against it now. GFI, the makers of the product Hassan used to test his computer, said a bug in that product misidentified a folder, according to a statement quoted by Computerworld.

“‘Our findings indicate that the person mentioned in the article used a security program called VIPRE that mistook a folder created by Microsoft’s Live Application for a key logging software, during a virus scan,’ the company said. ‘The confusion arose because VIPRE mistook Microsoft’s Live Application multi-language support folder, ‘SL’ folder, as StarLogger,’ Samsung said.”

It was right that GFI owned up and cannot have been easy.