Keyloggers

By | April 10, 2011
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Janice asks about keyloggers
I’ve been reading a lot about keyloggers. What are they and what are they for? I love your Information Avenue Premium newsletters! Best regards, Janice

Our Answer:
Thanks Janice. Keyloggers are being mentioned more these days because they’re becoming much more prevalent. Once the tool of choice for hackers to steal passwords and other sensitive data, keyloggers are now being used (sometimes legally) by employers to monitor the actions of their employees, by jealous spouses to “spy” on their mates, by parents monitoring the actions of their children, and by all types of cyber-criminals who use them to steal information, passwords, and sensitive data.

A keylogger records every keystroke made on your keyboard and saves the data to files. These files are usually stored in a hidden folder and are very difficult for the average computer user to find, even if you suspected they existed. These files contain a text recording of every single thing you’ve ever typed on your keyboard during the monitored period of time

One particularly scary and dangerous feature of all keylogging software is recording of a computer user’s keystrokes for the purpose of monitoring computer activity. While you are typing out your password and credit card details online it is possible a hacker or the person who installed the keylogger, to record every keystroke you make. Some keylogging software can even take screen shots of your computer’s screen and save them for later retrieval via the Internet or by someone with local or remote access to your computer.

There are a lot of gray areas when dealing with this type of software. In most cases employers can use the software legally to monitor employee activities whether they disclose this information in their conditions of employment or not. If you have legal questions regarding the use of keylogging software or hardware, you should check with your state’s attorney general’s office.

There are software keyloggers that must be installed on a computer and there are hardware keyloggers which must be attached to a computer. Any software keylogger is detectable with the right security software – hardware keyloggers cannot be detected by most security software.

What can you do to protect yourself from keyloggers? Most good antispyware programs and some ant-virus programs provide protection from software keyloggers – none provide protection from hardware keyloggers. Most companies that would log your keystrokes will be using a hardware keylogger – and most companies will restrict your access to your company computer so that you cannot install software anyway. If you work for a company that you think might be “spying” on you – the best thing you can do is to be careful what you type.

One thought on “Keyloggers

  1. Jill

    I work from home on my computer. My employer has been upfront and disclosed they monitor everything we do, while working – including keystrokes. I have no problem with that – I think they should.

    My personal computing is not done while on their server, and yet – I’m not confident that my e-mail, on-line banking passwords, surfing, and personal docs are private. Is there anything I can/should do ? Would different identities do the trick ? or a separate computer ? or ? I’m surprised my AVG doesn’t block their keylogger. But, obviously not – or I wouldn’t be working

    Reply

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