Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sensitive touchpad can bring up unwanted or dangerous websites


I’ve noticed a tendency on my 2009 Dell XPS laptop (running Windows Vista Home) for the touchpad to launch a URL without being actually pressed once in a while. I don’t see anything obvious on the Control Panel to suppress this. It seems to be a hardware engineering issue regarding sensitivity to touch, pressure, electric contact, and time.

It may happen if the touchpad lies right over a link too long (accidentally) even though the pad is not pressed.

I did not have this issue on a 2006 Dell Inspiron with Windows XP Pro, and I have never encountered the problem with a mouse.

Harmful results might occur. For example, the visitor might see an unwanted ad, or even accidentally link to pornography or to some content which it is illegal to possess.

Another possibility is that in Vista, on some machines with some configurations, once in a while complicated advertising programs could cause an ad to be displayed as if clicked when was not; this would be a security flaw. I'll watch to see if other problems like this are reported in security bulletins and lists of fixes.

Touchpad sensitivity might be related to biological factors, such as skin conductance, salinity, and the like: factors measured on a polygraph or even by electrocardiographic leads.

If others have noticed this with some laptop models and has suggestions, please comment.

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