What is a keylogger?
A Keylogger is spyware that records keystrokes entered by the user and much more.
Keyloggers can be hardware or software. Hardware keyloggers are embedded into the internal PC or a plug in is positioned between the CPU and keyboard cable. Software loggers are much more common and easier to install. They work behind the scenes while the computer operates normally.
It is worth pointing out that keyloggers are not always illegal. Many companies will use commercial software to troubleshoot and keep an eye on employees. Similarly, parents may want to install keylogger software to monitor their children’s activities. This is all perfectly legal to do if you own the device.
Concerns arise when malicious actors are behind them and do not own the device that they have infected. Keyloggers can steal passwords, periodically take screenshots, record webpages visited, view emails/instant messages and sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers, pin codes and bank accounts. The data will then be transferred over the network to a remote computer or server.
How does a Keylogger get installed?
Malicious keyloggers can be introduced to a system in some of the following ways:
Installed by clicking a file attached in an email, text or instant message from a sophisticated phishing campaign.
Drive-by malware, where you visit a legitimate, however, the website is infected and exploits a vulnerability in your device.
Installing a mobile app that has excessive permissions.
Someone has physical access to your device and can install keylogger or plug it into the keyboard USB port.
It is worth noting that keyloggers rarely arrive on their own. The Trojan that delivers the keylogger can also introduce adware, spyware or ransomware to the system.
Can Mobile Devices receive keyloggers?
Whilst hardware keyloggers cannot be installed on mobile devices, it is possible to be
infected with a software keylogger. Worryingly, software keyloggers on a phone can record more than keyboard activity. They can periodically take screenshots, control the camera, turn on the microphone and much more.
Anyone with physical access to the device can install them, they can infect themselves from phishing campaigns or be installed by a third-party application.
How to detect a keylogger?
Commercial software works extremely well and does not affect system performance. Keyloggers of a poor quality can reveal themselves in numerous ways. Some telling signs may include, slow web browsing or the mouse movements/keyboard strokes lagging.
The best way to protect your equipment is regularly scan your system with a reputable cybersecurity program such as Malwarebytes. This can detect and remove any nasty keyloggers.
How to protect against malicious keyloggers being installed?
There are a few simple approaches you can adopt to help prevent a malicious keylogger being installed on your device.
Keep your operating system, applications and web browsers up to date. This secures the devices against well-known exploits.
Be sceptical of attachments you receive. Do not open e-mails from senders you are not familiar with or any email that seems out of the ordinary.
Endpoint Protection. Invest in a good anti-virus with real time protection to help detect and prevent your device from being compromised
Third-Party Apps: If you didn’t go looking for it, don’t install it! Some applications may appear legitimate; however, they will ask for excessive permissions. For example, a tablet game unnecessarily requesting access to your camera.
Admin Rights: A lot of software on PC’s cannot execute without admin rights. Consider creating 2 accounts on your PC. One admin account with a strong password that you use to install software and a second account used for your regular activities.