it is important that you know what a keylogger is because it can ruin your day. Keyloggers do not sound like something malicious that is out to get someone. In fact, they sound more like a type of garden gnome than malicious software. Yet, keyloggers are malicious software crafted by cybercriminals and have existed since Soviet Russia in the 1970s. Yes, it is that level of seriousness. They are one of the most feared types of spyware (malicious software used for spying) known to the cybersecurity community. The notorious sneaky keylogger is one of the trusty tools in the cybercriminal’s attack arsenal that has been used for a long time to spy on, intercept and steal sensitive information from victims. Furthermore, a keylogger can do this quickly and effectively. Keyloggers are also an integral part of ransomware attacks, botnets, and cryptocurrency mining scenarios. To clarify, ransomware and botnets are the most dangerous type of cyber-attacks known to man which result in extortion and mass network infections.
Keylogging is not always malicious and is used in the industry for business and monitoring purposes such as parental controls, company tracking, and security as well as in law enforcement. The truth is that any software can be modified and crafted for malicious purposes. This is why it is important to distinguish between safe and unsafe software, as well as have the know-how to put up a defense wall against cybercriminal software.
What Are Keyloggers?
A malicious keylogger has a self-explanatory name, in that it logs keys (keystroke logging.) It is a type of malicious software called spyware that has to do with logging and tracking keystrokes on the keyboard (of a target computer.) Keyloggers run in the background because they are a type of Trojan virus, meaning they are invisible to the user (unless the user knows where to look for them.) When a keylogger runs in the background, it can capture all the information that is typed on the keyboard which can include; financial information, medical information, and other personal information that is strictly confidential to the user. This data can then be used to commit crimes, scams, fraud, identity theft, blackmail, and much more. Once the keylogger has the data it needs from the system, keylog data is transferred to the perpetrators quietly. A keylogger can also be hardware-based, such as ATM scrapers but software keyloggers are much more common. Modern mobile keyloggers may also have the capability to record call history, audio, location details, and even video via the camera.
How do Keyloggers Enter Your System?
There are a few ways by which keyloggers attach themselves to your system. They can arrive as; malware, adware, spyware, downloaded with a virus, via a phishing email (scam email with the malicious link), and more. They can come bundled together with software, or even reside in legitimate-seeming programs downloaded from the Google Play store, for example.
How to Protect Yourself From Malicious Keyloggers
Thankfully, the cybersecurity industry has dealt with keyloggers and other types of malware for so long that there is ample information and expertise on the subject out there on how to best protect yourself from these nasty little snippets of code. Here is a comprehensive list of what you need to take into account when it comes to protection from keyloggers;
- Monitoring background processes, network activity, and resource allocation in the operating system is crucial to understand if there is a keylogger lying around
- Checking which software has root access to the machine, as keyloggers usually need this access before they can start logging
- Using a modern anti-rootkit, premium antimalware and premium antivirus software can usually weed out a hidden keylogger
- Using dedicated anti-keylogger software
- Using a virtual keyboard
- Using strong, unique passwords across all devices (different ones for each)
- Browsing with a VPN or Virtual Private Network to confuse a potential keylogger
- Any suspicious pauses in keystrokes or keys not displaying on screen may indicate a keylogger
- For organizations, using multi-factor authentication across company devices and accounts
- Avoiding inputting personal information online if not necessary
Keyloggers are a very real threat, and cybercriminals can get access to PIN codes, passwords, accounts, and even personal information this way. Furthermore, keyloggers are a threat to the industry because these nifty little tools are still used in industrial espionage, corporate and government espionage. Keyloggers are statistically one of the most popular tools in the cybercriminal arsenal because of the wide range of applications and are getting more sophisticated and dangerous each day.
In conclusion, by sticking to the expert tips and recommendations above as well as keeping all software always updated, remembering to remain suspicious about any strange system behavior, you will rid yourself of any keylogger risks.