We know a keylogger as a very harmful and malicious tool that hackers use to steal personal data from unsuspecting computer users. At first sight, a keylogger may come across as harmless, but the raw fact is that it’s one of the worst threats in this day and age.
Ferrell Fuller with Houston Managed IT Services company ChaceTech answers this important question, what exactly is a keylogger?
A keylogger is basically a dangerous function that intercepts and records computer strokes. In simpler terms, it is a tool employed by attackers to the keystroke on computers. In the hands of a cybercriminal, keyloggers can be used to phish your personal information such as passwords, bank details, and such. Keystroke logging tools are one of the earliest types of malware and they date back to the times of typewriters!
However, keyloggers have a legitimate use. For example, businesses can use the tools to troubleshoot, enhance the user experience, or even monitor staff. In the intelligence circles, keyloggers are used by law enforcement personnel to monitor criminal activities or for surveillance.
How Does a Keylogger Work?
A keylogger gathers information and sends it back to another person, whether that is a law enforcement agency, IT support department, or even worse still, a criminal. It leverages special algorithms that monitor and record keyboard strokes through such techniques as pattern recognition.
How much data a keylogger can collect varies depending on the nature of the tool. For instance, a basic form can only collect login information from a single application or website. A more sophisticated keylogger can gather everything including copy and paste information!
Hardware-based keyloggers nestle between a computer’s port and the keyboard connector while a software-based one can be malware or downloaded apps that infect a computer without your knowledge.
How Keylogger Attacks Occur
Keylogging tools can be placed on computers in very many ways. Physical keyloggers require that a user be present for the tool to be placed on their machine, which means that such attacks are almost difficult to achieve. Attackers can also snoop on wireless keyboards, remotely.
Unlike physical loggers, software-based keyloggers are very common and they provide attackers multiple entry points into your machine. Some apps are also infected with keylogging malware. Google recently banned over 150 applications from its Play Store app platform because those apps were created with hidden keyloggers.
Also, hackers can use phishing emails to lure unsuspecting internet users into sharing with them their personal data. Asa rule, avoid emails that seem spammy or those with malicious attachments. Other keylogger variants spread malware through dangerous USBs. Avoid them, too.
Pro Tips for Detecting and Removing a Keylogger
Monitor Data, Processes, and Resource Allocation
Keyloggers usually strive to gain root access to your machine. That’s one sign of an infection. Also, pay keen attention to background processes and the data being transmitted by your computer.
Regularly Update Your Antivirus, Anti-rootkit, and OS
Make sure that your operating system is up to date with the latest security batches. Up-to-date antivirus software and anti-rootkit software can help detect and remove keyloggers and other malware.
Leverage Anti-Keylogger Software
Get a dedicated anti-keylogger software to help in encrypting keystrokes on your computer. Such software can also scan your computer and remove or flag unusual keylogging behavior.
Go for On-Screen Keyboard
While it doesn’t guarantee protection against all keylogging attacks, using a virtual on-screen keyboard can alleviate the risk of being keylogged as you input your information.
Strengthen Your Passwords
The best way to remain secure is by using multi-faceted password policies. Additionally, it’s also best to use a two-factor authentication security mechanism on your accounts and devices.
As a rule, always ensure to conduct more investigation on anything you feel is suspicious. And of course, stay up to date with the current cybersecurity news because things are evolving every day and criminals are growing smatter with every thwarted attack! Never rely on one method only, right?