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I have noticed for a few months that my mouse will randomly jerk across the screen. I'm super paranoid about security.

Has anyone else experienced this, and found out what causes it? It happens to me every couple of days. The cursor will jump across the screen about 1000+ pixels. I thought it was my mousepad - changed it, and that's not it.

Should I be paranoid about this, or is it just a hardware/software issue?

This is on a PC with a Razer Naga, wired mouse. The mouse worked for about a year before I started noticing these issues. They have persisted even after a reformat / reinstall.

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6  
WHAT is your mouse? Wired PS/2, wired USB, standard wireless, bluetooth...? If it's wireless of any sort it could just be interference. I mean, if you REALLY want to be sure it's not Big Brother you can just disconnect from the network. –  Shinrai Oct 12 '11 at 23:08
2  
It may be too late, they're on to you, setup a Faraday cage, disconnect and start DBANing your HDDS. NOW. –  Nick Josevski Oct 12 '11 at 23:15
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Yes. You are paranoid. –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Oct 12 '11 at 23:34
1  
Stupid question: Is this a laptop with a touchpad? Even with the touchpad sensitivity turned way down you will sometimes activate it with your hand. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 13 '11 at 0:59
    
Wired Razer Naga –  Alex Waters Oct 13 '11 at 3:28

8 Answers 8

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would suspect, first of all, optical/mechanical issues with the mouse.

Firstly, the optical sensor needs to be clean and free of grease (including invisible fingerprints), fluff and hair - on the outside and inside. This goes not just for the bit that lights up, but the sensor.

The optical unit is designed to focus at a specific distance, and if it is dislodged or adjusted in any way, then it can not work. I had a mouse where two of the stuck-on "feet" of the mouse came off, placing the optical sensor a very slight distance (fractions of millimetres) closer to the table/mousepad surface, making the mouse highly unreliable.

It could just be a dodgy mouse.

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  • An optical mouse could cause some erratic behavior if there is a hair or something stuck underneath it and triggering the sensor; remove the hair.

  • A ball mouse can cause erratic behavior if there is dirt stuck to the rollers; clean the roller and ball.

  • An wireless mouse can cause erratic behavior if there is interference between the mouse and the sensor; try a different channel or clear a line-of-sight between them.

  • A wired mouse can cause erratic behavior if there is a bad connection, for example a frayed cord or cold-joint/broken solder connection on the PS/2 or USB connector; replace cord/mouse or use a different port.

In your specific case, it sounds like a recent problem and an intermittent one at that. Does it usually happen on the same day and/or at the same time? It sounds like some new device that is causing interference when it turns on. Have you installed any new electronic devices or appliances in the past few months? Have you gotten new neighbors or was there any recent construction?

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Sometimes these kinds of mouse movements occur because the memory pointer that holds location information relative to the screen has become corrupt.

Drivers have these issues, and when they are problematic enough to effect enough people or enough situations are seen where the problem is linked back to said driver, the product manufacturer comes out with a Driver Update.

As from the bottom here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/88543 pay additional attention to #5 Mouse Pointer Movement Is Erratic

  1. If the mouse is jumpy, lower the Sensitivity value in the Mouse section of Control Panel.
  2. If the mouse is jumpy in Program Manager group windows, lower the granularity settings in the Desktop icon of Control Panel.
  3. If you are using the MS-DOS-based mouse driver MOUSE.COM or MOUSE.SYS version 7.04 or later, add the /Y switch to the end of the mouse command line as follows: c:\windows\mouse.com /y
  4. Follow the troubleshooting steps in the above section, "Mouse Does Not Function in Windows."
  5. It is possible that the erratic mouse movement you are experiencing is highly specific to the application, video card, machine BIOS, keyboard BIOS, or machine type you are using. For more information about these specific issues, query on the following words in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: mouse and erratic or jumpy or wild or jerky

PS don't bother searching microsoft's knowledge base, those terms aren't very helpful, its better if you just type in your video card makers name or the overall driver maker like Nvidia or ATI or Geforce ... with the name of the card identified and "mouse problem" and you'll usually find lots of stuff... or google: video driver causes mouse problem

lots of stuff out there. I've had this happen off and on, most recently its been happening less after I updated my video driver (nvidia) to the most current. In just 5 months the Nvidia drivers went from ver.266.58 to ver.280.26. While they may not have released to the public 14 versions, that's the minimum they went through in 5 months time. it happens..

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I also experienced the same phenomena using a normal wired, optical Logitech-Mouse. Even if I was not connected to a network this happened. Changing the mouse made it better for a while.

Nowadays, my conclusion is, that there's only some problem with the optical unit of the mouse. Nothing to worry about.

If you were remote-controlled, many more strange things happened (e.g. targeted mouse-movement or flickering on your screen).

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Unplug the mouse - and observe is anything is happening. If it happens without the mouse, disconnect the network and then if it DOSEN'T happen, panic, and follow the handy superuser malware removal community wiki.

I'd also check the system for unknown devices, and processes and autorunning software for unknown ones, since this sounds almost like a prank -this device comes to mind but google has a lot of hits for random mouse movement pranks

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With a wired mouse, a very likely cause is a broken mouse cable. Flexing of the cable eventually fatigues the conductors near the mouse body, and they become "touchy" to where they connect and disconnect erratically. This can result in the cursor suddenly scooting across the screen, etc.

It's easy to test for this possibility -- simply hold the mouse steady while you flex the cable near it, and look for any motion of the cursor.

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Disconnect from all networks. Does it still happen? If it does, then it's not BB. Even the gov can't send information to a computer remotely if it's not connected to the internet.
Also, anybody with any remote sense of stealth is not going to RC a box when they can tell it's being used.

EDIT:  @Thomasrutter has a good point. If it is someone trying to mess with you, it is extremely trivial to write a program that will move the mouse across the screen. This little C++ segment will do exactly what you are describing:

int random;
// loop forever, 1 will always equal 1
while(1)
{
    // generate random number between 0 and 100
    random = Rand()%100;
    // if the random number is greater than or equal to 75...
    if(random >= 75)
    {
         // ...then generate random numbers and set the
         // mouse coordinates to them
         SetCursorPos(Rand()%1000,Rand()%500);
         // pause for 10 seconds
         sleep(10000);
    }
    // loop back to beginning
}

If that is the case, then open Task Manager (CTRL+ALT+DELETE) and check for any suspicious looking processes (such as joke.exe, hack.exe, prank.exe or duplicate entries of legitimate processes)

Also, if you suspect this, check your startup folder (Start -> All Programs -> Startup) for suspicious looking entries.

This kind of attack is unlikely, unless you know a programmer with a sense of humor, but that would definitely explain the kind of behavior you're describing. (I did this to one of my friends once :)

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If we are going to entertain the idea that someone is controlling your computer remotely to mess with you, it's just as likely that they could have installed something on your PC that works when it's disconnected from the network. I realise you may have been trying to be funny. –  thomasrutter Oct 13 '11 at 0:10
    
@thomasrutter geez why didn't I think of that? I actually wrote a little program to randomly move the mouse and sent it to one of my programmer friends once. will revise answer to cover that... –  Nate Koppenhaver Oct 13 '11 at 17:31
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In the name of science! ;) –  thomasrutter Oct 14 '11 at 4:59

Besides the other comments on faulty optical sensor or trackball etc., I want to add that it can also happen if you have an optical mouse on a surface that doesn't have a lot of patterns (say glass or a uniformly white table etc.). If that is the case, try getting a mousepad - or maybe just try using newspaper page as a mousepad to test - and see if that fixes it.

And even if you're paranoid, you really should mention atleast your mouse type and OS for such a question.

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Laser mice don't have a problem with those surfaces, even mirrors work. :-O That's pretty cool. –  Bobson Oct 14 '11 at 15:53

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