A keylogger is a device or software that monitors the activities of an individual on a computer by logging every entered keystroke and saving that to its memory such that someone else can access it. It therefore poses a major security threat.
Types of Keyloggers
- Hardware keylogger. This is normally attached to a keyboard at the end of the USB port or PS2 and at the port and then attached to the port of the computer.
- Software keylogger. This is an installed computer program with the ability to monitor and save every entered keystroke, take screenshots of the computer in use and even save any data that is put on the clipboard.
A hardware keylogger is easy to install as all one has to do is to physically access the computer whereas installing a software keylogger is done through a computer network or the internet. The installer can access all the information by removing the device physically in the case of a hardware keylogger or sending the log file as an email, IM message or FTP upload in the case of a software keylogger or even accessing the same computer that was used.
Keyloggers are mainly used in government computers and offices as well as homes where parents monitor their children. They can also be misused by criminals in order to obtain private information from target victims such as credit card numbers, banking details and passwords.
Detecting a Keylogger in Your Computer
Although keyloggers are normally spying devices which may be hard to detect, there are some tips that can help detect one in your system.
In the case of detecting a hardware keylogger;
- Carefully examine the keyboard to see whether there is anything unusual.
- Examine the keyboard cable all from the keyboard itself up to the port connecting it to the CPU.
In the case of a software keylogger the signs include:
• Slowed computer functioning. Even simple activities like typing using the keyboard or moving the mouse may seem slower.
- A constant active network even when you are offline which results from the keylogger trying to send the captured information via the internet.
- Unapproved changes in online accounts. If all your account details are only known to you and then you sense changes for instance in passwords and credit card transactions, it could be an indication that someone else has accessed your system probably using a keylogger.
- Mysterious running of unauthorized processes. You should constantly check the task manager and if you notice any unknown running process, it could be a keylogger.
Getting Rid of Keyloggers
The best and most appropriate way of disposing keyloggers from your system is using both anti-spyware software and updated antivirus. Examples of anti-spyware software include Avast, Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-Aware, Avira and AVG. You can also use security suite softwares like Eset Internet Security, Norton Internet Security and Mcaffee Internet Security. Another option of getting rid of keyloggers is reformatting your computer. It may take some time but all you need is to back up your files by for instance using an external hard disk since formatting will erase any stored information.
In the modern world of escalated terrorism and crime, its better to be safe than sorry. You should avoid downloading software from unsafe websites and always be keen to notice any unusual behaviour in your computer. You should always use a personal computer to open delicate accounts such as online accounts and email or be very cautious using public computers and change passwords often.