Oklahoma Sheriff's Computers Were Bugged by Spyware

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Someone placed surveillance software on sheriff's office computers, apparently enabling unauthorized access to sensitive information about prisoner movements, confidential homeland security updates and private personnel files.

Sheriff John Whetsel said Monday Spector Pro, monitoring software designed to track every detail of computer activity, was found last week on three computers in his office. Whetsel said he discovered the software on his own computer when he ran a spyware detector out of curiosity.

A scan of all sheriff's computers also found the application on the computers of Maj. John Waldenville and Capt. David Baisden. Waldenville leads the sheriff's administrative services bureau, which is in charge of finances. Baisden is in charge of grant writing and homeland security.

"We were shocked,'' Whetsel said. "Anything sensitive that we might have been working on, they could have taken a screen shot at any time and be looking at material that they have no business looking at. If someone was watching and taking screen shots, there is a good possibility that sensitive law enforcement information has been compromised.''

District 1 Commissioner Jim Roth said the county's information systems department told him the software could not have come from Web browsing. It had to be installed by someone either sitting at the computers or by someone with administrative access to the county's network.

A reserve deputy with computer training helped clean the software from the computers and cut remote access from the county's network to sheriff's computers because of the possibility current or former information systems employees could have installed the software, Whetsel said.

Whetsel said he did not believe any current employees would have installed the software, and he said he was happy with the response he got from the information systems department when he reported the breach.

County officials said they have not determined who installed the software or when.

Roth, Whetsel and a county information systems employee all said they can think of no legitimate reason why such software would be installed on sheriff's computers.