What Is A Keylogger?

What is a keylogger? With so much being discussed about keyloggers, keystroke loggers or keylogging software on the same lines as data theft, it's an obvious question.

A keylogger can be a software application or a hardware device that silently monitors, intercepts and records the keystrokes made on a particular computer's keyboard. Generally keylogging happens without the computer user's knowledge.

Typically this happens as part of strategy to be able to spy on anyone or to steal sensitive information including but not limited to login credentials, personal information such as bank access details, credit card information that's being entered on the computer.

Various Types of Keyloggers

Now that we know what is a keylogger, let us look at the three primary categories of keyloggers.

  1. Software keyloggers - Are often invisible programs that silently run in the background of a PC and record every keystroke, some are sophisticated enough to even capture autocomplete passwords. The recorded information saved in a file and is stored on the hard drive or have feature to email to a configured email address. These programs can also perform screen captures. Software keyloggers while at their work may be visible in the task manager or be invisible as stealth keyloggers.
  2. Hardware keyloggers – Are small devices placed between the keyboard and the PC, some may even be fitted internally inside the keyboard. They can often go undetected either because of their size or even impossible to detect if placed inside a keyboard. While they are absolutely capable of capturing hundreds of keystrokes, they may not even use the computer's storage. Hardware-based are more difficult to implement on the target machine as they keyloggers are less common, as they often require physical access to the target computer. They are completely undetectable to malware scanners and may only be detected by hardware experts.
  3. Kernel/driver keyloggers – Implemented at the kernel level, these types of keyloggers receive data directly from the keyboard by either piggybacking on the driver software or by replacing the core software responsible for interpreting keystrokes. While they may be undetectable by most security software it may not be possible to record autocomplete passwords with these keylogging applications.

What Is A Keylogger Used For?

What is a keylogger or keylogging used for? Keyloggers are notoriously famous for stealing personal information, bank account details and other financial information. Hackers generally embed keyloggers inside a larger application, malware or hidden inside a trojan horse. While these are some illegal reasons for keylogging, there are legitimate reasons too, let look at them -

  1. Some organizations may install keyloggers to track computer usage by staff and supervise employees for internet and PC usage compliance.
  2. At home, parents can exercise 'parental control' by using special keylogging tools like KidLogger to monitor their children's activity. Even spouses may use the same for identifying any potential unfaithful activities.

Protection Against Malicious Keyloggers

Your PC can get infected with keyloggers in several ways. Users can unknowingly download them from an infected Website, through email attachments, or by clicking on links.

Hackers are everyday devising sophisticated techniques to gain access to private and confidential data, which is why you must follow some simple preventive measures may help protect against keyloggers -

  • Installing security software as Anti-keylogger, Anti-Malware, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus and firewall. Especially in case of a firewall, maintain strict rules for outbound connections.
  • Use an anti-keylogger that works well in tandem with password managers, but even better strategy is to be able to use an application such as Comodo i-Vault which combines the benefits of password management with anti-keylogging features.
  • Keeping all programs updated – especially the Windows operating system, Anti-Malware software, firewall software, email clients that you may be using.
  • Recognise phishing emails, avoid clicking on links in unknown emails that may point to sites that are hosting malware.
  • Make use of virtual keyboards as far as possible, online banking sites provide the feature of virtual keyboard to protect against keylogging software.
  • A slightly technical tip might be to try and identify suspicious programs by monitoring your computer's task manager and, taking appropriate action such as terminating suspected processes.

Recommended Anti-Keyloggers

While some internet security suites do come bundled with built-in keylogger, however it makes sense to use a dedicated one for the safety for your data.

  1. SpyShelter Stop-Logger – Provides excellent protection using against rogue keylogging software with advanced features such as real time keystroke protection. Is available in free and as well as in premium version.
  2. Zemana AntiLogger – Uses a unique technique called IntelliGuard, a cloud based technology which helps provide supreme protection against newest keyloggers.

Recommended Virtual Keyboards

  1. Neo's SafeKeys – Offers very good security by protecting against keyloggers, clipboard loggers, mouse position loggers, screen loggers, decent password field protection and nice integration with popular web broswers.
  2. TrendSecure Transaction Guard – Requires no installation and needs to be downloaded for each run, it provides basic features of secure data entry in web forms. Supports execution on Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Bottom Line

With a fair understanding of what is a keylogger and what it is used for, due care must be taken to ensure that certain malicious keylogging software are prevented from their objective of stealing your data.

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