The internet, as can be observed, is a coin that has two sides. At the first side you see a deep, bottomless ocean of possibilities, knowledge and entertainment. At the second side, however, there lies numerous risks, life-threatening dangers and deceptions.
Brute-forcing, cyberbullying, and keyloggers are some of the modern-day traps of the Internet. Today we’re focusing on the latter – keyloggers.
What Is a Keylogger?
A keylogger, keystroke logger or system monitor is all about spying on a user's computer. It’s generally a virus that records every keystroke made by a computer user, especially in order to gain fraudulent access to passwords and other confidential information.
- Over the past decade, IT security companies have recorded a steady increase in keylogger-based malware.
- However, 80% of all keyloggers are not detectable by antivirus software or firewalls – which makes them an extremely serious risk in the cyber world.
Have you seen the movie “The Truman Show”?
It’s the story of an ordinary man living a normal life. He is married, has a job, a nice house, good friends, and kind neighbors. Or that’s how it seems on the surface.
Actually, this man is living in his own reality show. He has been monitored ever since his birth, without having a clue about it. Every step he takes is followed. Every action he takes is recorded.
Sounds like fiction (and it is), but it can also be a reality. Your whole life is practically stored on computers. You have your online banking, social media, conversations, downloads – you name it.
But You Are Well Informed and Secured, Right?
You know what social engineering is, SSL is your best friend and you have the top antivirus installed. Then again, banks also have guards, safes, padlocks and code combinations, but robbers still manage to steal money.
To paraphrase Henry Ford: A reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability is the only real security a man can have in this world.
How Do Keyloggers Work?
Just like a hidden surveillance camera that tracks all your actions. A keylogger is a type of software that records keys as you strike them on your keyboard. Keystroke loggers arrive just as any other malware and are hard to discover if you don’t know what to look for.
You can get infected by simply visiting a website. Furthermore, some keylogging software can take screenshots of your activity and record your microphone.
A certain action may trigger the keystroke logger too. For instance, the keylogger software may start recording only once you’ve opened the browser to access your online banking. But you’re probably wondering:
How to Check for a Keylogger on Your PC
A keyboard logger can be tricky to detect. First signs of an infection could be:
• Web page performance slowing down.
• Your mouse or keystrokes pausing or not showing up onscreen what you’re actually typing.
• Getting error screens when loading web pages or graphics.
How do I stop a keylogger from running on my PC?
Here are the steps you need to take:
• Run an antivirus scan. In most cases, your antivirus will detect malware and keyloggers.
• Open Task Manager and check for any suspicious applications.
• Check your list of installed programs – run a google search if you have doubts about a program.
Types of Keyloggers
While keyboard loggers are mainly software-based, there are some hardware options as well. Here’s the deal:
1- Software Keyloggers
Keylogging software is a kind of malware program that's normally used to take screenshots, record clipboards, capture keystrokes, and also record USB drives, files and folder usage. On top of that, it can record sound from a microphone and take screenshots. This software can be installed on most platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, Blueberry, etc. Oftentimes, it appears to be hidden but can be easily spotted from the task manager. The program’s folder is visible, as well.
Some types of keylogging software can even monitor up to 200 remote computers in the network. It can log keystrokes, web searches, run programs, visited websites and much more. The program is hidden by default, but it can still be seen in the task manager.
Other, more dangerous, types of keylogging software can only capture keystrokes; however, it is the stealthiest option that cannot be detected in the task manager, and the program folder is hidden and doesn’t show up in the Windows uninstall list.
2- Hardware Keyloggers
Some keyboard loggers can be implemented entirely as hardware devices. A person puts a specialized USB device, which acts as an intermediary between the computer’s USB port and the keyboard’s USB connector.
The device stores signals from the keyboard, while everything appears to be working normally. If you keep your computer under a desk, the device would practically remain invisible.
Security software won’t be able to detect the keylogger since it’s pure hardware. The person can come back a couple of days later, grab the device and no evidence will remain. You won’t even realize what has happened.
To prevent this, simply check the back of your computer to see if there’s any device between your PC and keyboard.
Mobile Device Keylogging
Good news is that there are no hardware keystroke loggers for mobiles, but both Androids and iPhones are vulnerable to keylogging software. Since modern phones use a touch screen, keyloggers adopt a specific approach. They eavesdrop on what you press on your screen. From there on, your camera, microphone, connected networks, devices, and all your messages are monitored.
Anyone who has temporary access to your phone can load a keylogger. Your device can also get infected in the same way as a computer – via phishing emails and malicious websites.
How To Detect & Prevent Keyloggers on your PC
In general, you should be cautious when opening attachments. Keyloggers could be injected in files received through email, text messages, chats, networks, and even social media. Pay attention to fishy emails, asking for your personal information.
It’s crucial to have an antivirus program with the latest updates. Be cautious when you turn your antivirus off, because that’s the chance keyboard loggers are waiting for to creep in.
Virtual Keyboard also helps to avoid personal data interception by hackers. It is a software used to allow the user to input characters without the actual need for physical keys.
Enabling two-step authentication with a one time password would help protect you, too. Since the one time password is temporary, hackers cannot use the same password again.
Include your phone number for authentication so that even if keyloggers crack the actual password, it will be useless to them.
How to Spot a Keylogger on Android and iPhone | Signs There Is a Key Logging Software on Your Mobile:
- Your phone is hot. If you close all your apps and programs, but the phone still feels like a boiling piece of metal, there’s a big chance you are being monitored.
- The battery is draining quickly. You’ve barely used your device, yet the battery is almost gone.
- Strange text messages. Avoid clicking and immediately delete any strange text message you may receive.
- Your phone is going nuts. Should your mobile start to turn off and on randomly, it’s likely infected by a keystroke logger.
- Background noise. If you hear strange noises while talking on the phone, this may be an indicator that somebody just eavesdropped on your conversation.
Steps to Seek and Destroy the Keylogger Malware:
- Check the Downloads/My Files folder on your phone. The keylogger file may be a combination of random characters and end in APK.
- Use antivirus software. It will find and quarantine the keylogger, essentially protecting your phone on a regular basis.
- Reset your phone. Just make sure to back up any important data beforehand. This is a sure way of removing keystroke loggers.
We hope this blog has managed to give you insight into how you can secure your devices against keyloggers - whether hardware or software.