Get Safe Online is warning people who borrow or rent computers to do so only from trusted, reputable sources to minimise the risk of being affected by theft of personal information or even physical webcam spying.
The warning follows a case in the United States, where a number of companies accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of spying on customers around the world, have agreed to settle with the consumer protection agency. The FTC claims that Pennsylvania-based developer DesignerWare licensed software for rental computers that was capable of logging users' keystrokes, capturing screenshots and taking webcam pictures. The software – called PC Rental Agent – was created for 'rent-to-own' computer companies wanting to track their machines and disable them upon non-payment by customers, but it is also capable of gathering confidential information – such as Social Security numbers; medical records and credentials for email accounts, financial details and social media sites.
Apparently the software is also capable of taking webcam photos of computer users. Get Safe Online reported on the dangers of 'webcam blackmail' on this site in a news item on 17 September.
We are sure that the vast majority of rented or borrowed computers are safe, but as with all things online, it pays to take precautions.