A keylogger is a type of spyware that records the keystrokes of a person using a computer. On the surface, it appears almost harmless. Keyloggers are openly used by corporations on company computers to track their employees’ activities in order to enforce regulatory compliance. Keyloggers also help administrators investigate IT-related issues. For example, an administrator can search keylogging data for keywords related to an industrial espionage incident at the company.
Keyloggers are popular among regular users too. Some parents deem it necessary to monitor their children’s digital activity with keyloggers in an increasingly dangerous digital world. Unfortunately, keyloggers also serve more nefarious purposes. For example, suspicious spouses use keyloggers to monitor their partner’s activities while stalkers use keyloggers to track their targets.
Keyloggers Are a Favorite of Cybercriminals
Keyloggers are an especially dangerous tool in the hands of skilled cybercriminals. They’re used to record credit card numbers, login credentials, social security numbers, and other confidential information. Advanced versions of keyloggers can also take screenshots. Cybercriminals use these features of keyloggers to commit blackmail, identity theft, and industrial espionage.
How Do Cybercriminals Install Keyloggers?
Like other types of malware, software keyloggers infect their targets through browser links, malicious scripts, and more. Hackers love to use a trojan virus as a delivery tool. However, unlike other malicious programs, keyloggers usually don’t damage their host systems.
You can recognize a malware infection when your computer slows down, starts crashing, or exhibits other unusual symptoms. On the other hand, a system infected with a keylogger often displays no sign of an unwanted guest at all. Usually, a keylogger lies quietly in the background, uses few system resources, and keeps its nose clean.
Hardware keyloggers are more challenging to plant than software keyloggers because a cybercriminal must have physical access to a computer to install them. Hardware keyloggers are embedded in USB devices, SIM chips, and other small pieces of hardware. They’re used more frequently by industrial spies and state-sponsored actors than petty criminals. The best time to catch a crook who uses a hardware keylogger is when they come to retrieve the device.
How Do You Protect Yourself from Keyloggers?
You must be proactive to shield yourself from keyloggers. Arm yourself with information about cybersecurity basics and protection from industry-leading experts that specialize in combatting all kinds of malware, including keyloggers. Learn to recognize cleverly designed phishing expeditions. An attachment on an email, text message, instant message, or social media can quickly infect your system with a keylogger.
Activate two-step authentication to protect your sensitive accounts. Even if a cybercriminal learns your login information through a keylogger, they’ll struggle to access an account that’s shielded by two-step authentication.
Install an advanced cybersecurity software on your system that uses heuristics, signature recognition, and identification of typical keylogger behavior associated with keystroke and screenshot capturing to combat such threats. The right cybersecurity software should also block access to infected sites and malicious links that may carry keyloggers.
Although keyloggers are serious threats, you’re not defenseless. Use top-of-the-line cybersecurity software and be proactive to protect your private data from cybercriminals who wield this spyware.