According to the EFF, police departments around the country have been distributing spyware that can record and transmit everything you do on your computer.

In an effort to provide parents with better monitoring tools, more than two hundred police departments in thirty-five states have bought ComputerCOP in bulk amounts to proliferate it in their communities. In one case, a department bought 43,000 copies of the spyware.

The problem is that the software can be more dangerous than nothing at all. It’s designed to record all the keystrokes a user makes and store them in a folder. If a parent wants to set keywords like “porn” or “gun,” the software will send them an email when those words are used. The information transmitted is unencrypted online and locally, so essentially hackers and predators only have to make one stop to see everything you do and all of your passwords.

Additionally, the software can be hidden unless you’re looking for it. So the police is distributing a free wiretapping tool for any creepo who wants to spy on his spouse or co-worker, an extremely ironic thing to do when just this week federal authorities indicted the creator of a different spyware program, called StealthGenie. In that instance, it was marketed as a way to spy on your spouse.

Just in case some jerk has installed this on your computer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has compiled a guide for finding and deleting ComputerCOP which we’ve made a little more readable for you below:

Step 1:

Windows

To determine if KeyAlert is running, open the Task Manager and look for CCNet.exe. Alternatively, if the user installed it in the default location, you can find it installed in “C:\Program Files\WinSS\Book”.  You may also be able to spot its icon in the system tray.

Mac

Open Finder and navigate to the root directory of your Mac’s hard drive. If there is a file named “LogKextUninstall.command” then the Mac version of ComputerCOP’s keylogger is installed.

Step 2:

Windows

Go to Add/Remove Programs, select “KeyAlert”, and then click “Remove”, or if the user installed it in the default location, delete the folder “C:\Program Files\WinSS\Book” and then make sure to reboot your computer.

Mac

Open Finder and navigate to the root directory of your Mac’s hard drive. Find the file named “LogKextUninstall.command” and double-click on it to uninstall the keylogger.

Step 3:

Windows

You will also want to delete all the keystrokes records stored on your hard drive. Go to the folder “C:\Windows\WinCCNet” and delete the entire folder.

Mac

On Mac these are deleted automatically.

The full guide has more details if you’re interested. And remember, there’s just no such thing as good spyware. Especially good cop-approved spyware. (Photo: Khon2)