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The Risks of Using Mouse Jigglers and Third-Party Software

Two people standing in front of an open laptop to illustrate mouse jigglers
April 18, 2017

Using security programs is half the battle

No matter how advanced your security software may be, you can compromise your home or work computer in a matter of seconds. Being vigilant about what you download and plug into your machine can prevent a wide range of attacks. Mouse jigglers are a prime example of software and hardware that can cause expensive cyber breaches.

What You
Should Know

Mouse jigglers come in two forms: software or hardware. People use them to prevent their computers from going to sleep.

What You
Can Do

Stay vigilant about the programs you download as they can open your computer to cyber threats.

95% of all security incidents involve human error. 1

What is a mouse jiggler?

Mouse jigglers (MJs) come in two forms: software program or USB drive. Many people use them to prevent their computers from going into a sleep state. MJs have a few convenient purposes: to stop screensavers from activating during presentations, prevent stalling issues during lengthy downloads or stop pesky lock screens from coming up on work computers.

What are the dangers of using these devices?

MJs open up a number of issues. By preventing lock screens from coming up, they give criminals the chance to access your machine password-free. If you’re using your computer in a public place or at work, this means your files, data and personal information can be seen and stolen by anyone in your physical vicinity. This puts you at great risk of identity theft. (Learn more about identity theft in our article here).

Whatever format they come in, MJs can also infect your system with malware. If they come in an insecure software program or compromised USB device, downloading them or plugging them into your computer could give hackers free range to attack.

A 2016 study found almost half the people who picked up a USB stick they found in a parking lot plugged it into their PCs. 2

More programs and devices to avoid

It’s important to stay vigilant about all software and devices that come into contact with your computer. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Third-party software – Not all programs are created equally. Many, in fact, come packed with malware like viruses, ransomware, spyware, Trojan horses and more. Before downloading any software, do your research on the company that created it. Also look at reviews for any warning signs. If you want to download the program on your work computer, check with your IT department first.
  • USB drives – Be careful with the USBs you plug into your computer. These devices are easy for hackers to bug. By plugging in an infected drive, you could give criminals access to your files. Even worse, if you use a USB on your work computer, you could infect your entire office network with a worm. Know the history of your USBs. Don’t borrow any from friends or co-workers. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Personal devices – Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can carry many forms of malware as well. Be especially careful when connecting them to your work computers as hackers use them as access points to infiltrate other machines. Don’t plug them into your work computers. Use wall sockets or power strips to charge them instead.
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