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Hackaday Links: June 16, 2024

Attention, slackers — if you do remote work for a financial institution, using a mouse jiggler might not be the best career move. That’s what a dozen people learned this week as they became former employees of Wells Fargo after allegedly being caught “simulating keyboard activity” while working remotely. Having now spent more than twice as many years working either hybrid or fully remote, we get it; sometimes, you’ve just got to step away from the keyboard for a bit. But we’ve never once felt the need to create the “impression of active work” during those absences. Perhaps that’s because we’ve never worked in a regulated environment like financial services.

For our part, we’re curious as to how the bank detected the use of a jiggler. The linked article mentions that regulators recently tightened rules that require employers to treat an employee’s home as a “non-branch location” subject to periodic inspection. More than enough reason to quit, in our opinion, but perhaps they sent someone snooping? More likely, the activity simulators were discovered by technical means. The article contains a helpful tip to avoid powering a jiggler from the computer’s USB, which implies detecting the device over the port. Our guess is that Wells tracks mouse and keyboard activity and compares it against a machine-learning model to look for signs of slacking.

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ATtiny85 Mouse Jiggler Lets You Take A Break

The good news is that more and more people are working from home these days. The bad news is that some of the more draconian employers out there aren’t too happy about it, to the point of using spyware software to keep tabs on their workers. Better make that bathroom break quick — Big Brother is watching!

One simple way to combat such efforts is a mouse jiggler, which does…well it does exactly what it sounds like. If you find yourself in need of such a device, the WorkerMouse from [Zane Bauman] is a simple open source design that can be put together with just a handful of components.

The WorkerMouse is designed to be assembled using through-hole parts on a scrap of perfboard, but you could certainly swap them out for their SMD variants if that’s what you have on hand. The circuit is largely made up out of passive components anyway, except for the ATtiny85 that’s running the show.

[Zane] decided to embrace modernity and couple the circuit with a USB-C breakout board, but naturally you could outfit it with whatever USB flavor you want so long as you’ve got a cable that will let you plug it into your computer.

The project’s C source code uses V-USB to connect to the computer and act as a USB Human Interface Device (HID). From there, it generates random speed and position data for a virtual mouse, and dumps it out every few seconds. The end result is a cursor that leaps around the screen whenever the WorkerMouse is plugged in, which should be enough to show you online while you step away from the computer. As an added bonus, [Zane] has put together a nice looking 3D printable enclosure for the board. After all, the thing is likely going to be sitting on your desk, might as well have it look professional.

If you’ve got the time to get a PCB made, you might also be interested in the MAUS we covered last year, which also keeps the ATtiny85 working so you don’t have to.

Compact Mouse Jiggler Keeps Boss Off Your Back

The work-from-home revolution enabled many workers to break free from the shackles of the office. Some employers didn’t like the loss of perceived control though, and saddled workers with all kinds of odious spyware to monitor their computer activity. Often, this involves monitoring mouse movement to determine if workers are slacking off or not. Mouse jigglers aim to fool these systems, and the MAUS from [MAKERSUN99] is one you can build yourself.

The MAUS is not a mechanical system that moves a real-life mouse on your desk. Instead, it directly injects emulated mouse movements via USB. It runs on an ATtiny85, which is able to spit out USB HID commands with the help of the V-USB software USB implementation. Along with the microcontroller, MAUS also features a red LED and a WS2812B RGB LED for user feedback. It’s also available on Tindie if your boss has you so busy that you don’t have time to build one.

Mouse jigglers came to prominence as working from home became mainstream. However, they’ve been around for years.

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