Hackers steal your personal information using a keystroke logger often referred to as a keylogger. To understand how to track keystrokes, you have to learn how a keylogger works.
How does a Keylogger Work?
A keylogger intercepts the keys you press on the keyboard by monitoring the paths the characters travel through. It can also intercept a web page submission to capture sensitive information you enter to log into your account. A keylogger can even capture screenshots to steal personal information. Basically, it logs everything you type. That’s how keyloggers work.
Let’s now discuss the process of tracking and recording keystrokes on infected computers.
How to Track Keystrokes?
Step no. 1 - Install a Keylogger on a Target Computer
To track keystrokes, hackers need to install a keylogger on their target computers. How do they do that? Below are the primary methods hackers use to install keyloggers.
1. Spear Phishing
Spear phishing is a fake email disguised as legitimate. It contains a malicious attachment that installs a keylogger once downloaded. Hackers send phishing emails to their target computers. When users open the email, their computers get infected with a keylogger.
Hackers also use trojan to install a keylogger on computers. Trojan is a malicious application that pretends as a legitimate program. When users install the fake software, trojan installs the other malware embedded in it.
3. Phishing URLs
Hackers also use phishing URLs to install a keylogger. These are the links that open malicious websites. The malware infected website installs a keylogger in the background. So the installation occurs without the user’s knowledge.
4. Malicious Ads
Hackers also install a keylogger on their target computers using malicious ads. These ads are lurking even on legitimate websites. Sometimes they install malware when users click on the X button.
5. Exploit Kits
Exploit kits are tools that hackers deploy to scan web browsers and computer for vulnerabilities. Once exploit kits discover a vulnerability, they install a keylogger. They often exploit outdated software, plug-ins, and add-ons.
Those are the common methods for installing a keylogger on the target computers.
Step no. 2 - A Keylogger Intercepts the Keystrokes
Once installed, as mentioned, a keylogger monitors the paths that the keys you press on keyboard travel through. By doing so, it is able to capture the exact characters that you type before they even reach their destination.
To steal personal information on web browsers, a keylogger monitors your browsing activities. When you log into your account, a keylogger intercepts the web submission to steal username and password.
Step no. 3 - A Keylogger Transmits the Information
Once the information is logged and saved on the software, a keylogger transmits the information to the hacker. A keylogger is connected to a C&C server where it transmits the stolen information. Once a keylogger carries out its goal, it can auto uninstall to leave no trace of its activities.
Step no. 4 - Hacker Downloads the Information
We have come to the final step. Hackers only need to download the information from the C&C server and he can log into your account without you knowing it. We know what worst things that could happen - empty bank accounts, unauthorized transactions, identity theft. Those are the primary reasons for deploying keyloggers.
Now that you have learned how to track keystrokes, what can you do to protect yourself from a keystroke logger? We’ll show the effective ways to protect yourself against a keystroke logger attack.
How to Protect Yourself from a Keystroke Logger?
Copy and Paste your Username and Password
A keylogger can only capture the keys you press on the keyboard. So if you copy and paste your username and password, it won’t be able to log the characters anymore. Some users save the details on a notepad then copy and paste them later. Although, some keyloggers are able to capture screenshots.
Use a 2-Step Verification
Enabling a 2-Step verification gives you extra protection against a keylogger. It sends a pin to your mobile number. You have to confirm that you are the account holder by entering the pin code. Without the pin code, hackers cannot gain access to your account even if he already has your username and password. It is recommended to enable 2-step verification for your account because data-theft is rampant.
Use Key Encryption Software
If you want to conceal the characters you enter on the keyboard, use key encryption software. This is designed to encrypt the characters as they travel through the path. It prevents a keylogger from capturing the exact keys.
Install Anti Malware Software
Anti malware software provides complete protection against malware. It detects and blocks keyloggers immediately. Thus, prevents it from stealing your personal information. If you don’t have anti malware software on your computer yet, it is advisable to install a trusted anti malware software today. Different types of malware are lurking on the Internet, don’t wait until your computer gets infected.
Hackers always find a way to infect random computers with keyloggers, but there are ways to counter them. Anti malware software is your primary defense against keyloggers. But remember that your browsing habits also play an important role in preventing a keylogger infection.