Welcome to the weirdest question of 2014 so far.

Yesterday, a user's computer (Windows 7 Pro, on domain) started typing 56 at random intervals. I saw it sit there and type "5656565656" into notepad over the span of a minute or two, but sometimes it would go half an hour of not typing anything. The user claimed it would type "56" upon clicking on any cell in a blank Excel sheet at one point. Here's some facts:

  • Replaced PS/2 keyboard with a USB one
  • Uninstalled all HID drivers, rebooted to have them reinstall the necessary ones
  • Uninstalled Microsoft Mouse & Keyboard software (for a wireless kit that doesn't exist anymore)
  • Ran quick MalwareBytes scan; Clean
  • Happens in any application: IE, MS Office, Notepad, etc.
  • Happens with no applications open
  • Happens in any user account

We've got Symantec Endpoint Protection updated on all computers. Nobody else is experiencing this. No Windows updates were applied in the days leading up to this happening. Many restarts have been performed. Something else installed is a document management software called OnBase, if anyone knows what that is, or if that helps.

Any other ideas I can pursue? It's not a hardware issue, not a virus, and I guess not a driver issue.

migrated from serverfault.com Jan 8 '14 at 4:44

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

  • This is almost certainly a hardware issue - just give them a new base unit. – user35787 Jan 3 '14 at 19:29
  • "New base unit" -- new computer? Come on... – armani Jan 3 '14 at 19:44
  • Is there another keyboard connected? A standalone numeric keypad, for instance? Does the computer have a VNC server installed? Bluetooth? – Michael Hampton Jan 3 '14 at 20:06
  • Does this happen in 'safe' mode? – Matthew Ife Jan 3 '14 at 20:08
  • 1
    I also edited your tags...while funny I don't think ghost is the appropriate tag here. :) – TheCleaner Jan 3 '14 at 20:18

Check to see if a) Bluetooth is enabled and b) there's a wireless Bluetooth keyboard attached to the OS.

This used to happen to the mobile Mackbooks all the time when they'd select the wrong BT keyboard for the Hot Desk Macbooks. I imagine the same could happen with a Windows box.

  • This was the closest answer. Get this: There was a wireless receiver still plugged in from the old USB keyboard the user used to have. The keyboard was still on in another office ACROSS THE HALL with a BOX on top of it pressing the '5' and '6' keys! Happy Monday :) – armani Jan 6 '14 at 16:17
  • @armani I think we kind of assumed that you had already checked for suspicious looking usb dongles. Definitely something to remember for next time. – Grant Jan 6 '14 at 19:28
  • always best to look for the simple answer first. Keep your mind open to the edge cases, but best to check for simple first. – Magellan Jan 6 '14 at 20:12
  • @Grant I thought I did, too. Missed this one at first. – armani Jan 6 '14 at 20:45
  • @armani happens to the best of us. – Grant Jan 6 '14 at 23:42

I'd probably start with reimaging the machine.

But if you are determined to figure out the actual cause, swap the hard drive with an identical machine - see if the problem moves with the drive or stays with the hardware.

If it moves with the drive, then it's a driver, software or malware issue. Wipe the drive and start over. Or continue fiddling with drivers and uninstalling programs until the problem goes away.

If it stays with the computer, then you have hardware issues. Maybe someone built a usb microcontroller to randomly type numbers just to irritate you and connected it to the USB header inside the machine. Or maybe the hardware is just faulty and needs to be replaced.

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