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What is a Keylogger: A Brief on a Dangerous and Malicious Tool

What is a keylogger? At its most basic definition, a keylogger is a function which records or keystrokes on a computer. Taken at this basic level, a keylogger looks absolutely harmless. In the hands of a hacker or a cybercriminal, a keylogger is a potent tool to steal away your information. We'll talk about how a keylogger works, how cybercriminals install it on your computer, and what you can do to avoid being a victim. You'll know what is a keylogger when we're done.

What is a Keylogger

What is a Keylogger: Knowing Leads to Prevention

As previously mentioned, a keylogger is a function which records and logs all keystrokes. Therefore, a keylogger can be a process which an app performs, an app itself, or even a device which logs and records typing. The keylogger as a device is rarely found in the field but it is important to keep this in mind for security purposes.

A keylogger, by itself, is relatively neutral and thus it is integrated into a lot of licensed software in the market. Companies use keyloggers to find out what their employees are doing on their stations during the workday. Since being aware of this information is crucial to a company's security, enterprises use this to make sure no sensitive information about the corporation is being leaked out by workers through keyloggers.

What is a Keylogger: Forms of a Keylogger

In homes, keyloggers work actively in parental controls, recording a child's Internet activity on their laptops or computers. A jealous spouse may also use a keylogger to see what their partners are doing online.

Taking ethical considerations aside, a keylogger can be a useful tool depending on who is benefiting from its operation. Because of its ability to reap data, a hacker will use a keylogger to ferret out passwords and log-ins. The hacker will often use social engineering techniques to place a keylogger on a computer or by infecting the computer with a Trojan virus that unpacks the keylogger into the system.

What is a Keylogger: How Hackers Install a Keylogger

A hacker employs a Trojan virus as a delivery tool to install a keylogger. But way before one is downloaded onto your system, a hacker will use two different methods to get it into your computer. And both ways involve your participation.

The first method involves phishing. Phishing is the act of faking an email from a legitimate company to fish for passwords and credit card numbers. Sometimes, these emails contain attachments which download programs stealthily into your computer once you click on them.

For the second method, the hacker researches on his intended victim beforehand in order to find a weakness in her or his online habits. Let's say a hacker finds out the victim habitually visits porn sites, the hacker might craft an email with a fake coupon for a membership into an exclusive erotic website. Since this method targets a particular fondness of the victim, there's a large chance of success that the he or she will download the fake attachment, unknowingly installing the keylogger.

What is a Keylogger: What You Can Do

There are three surefire ways to protect yourself against a keylogger. First, you can use one-time randomly generated passwords. Another method you can use is a virtual keyboard which keystrokes cannot be recorded by older keyloggers.

However, the best method is to use a proactive solution like Comodo Advanced Endpoint Protection in order to scan your emails and keep a keylogger from installing on your computer. This solution can catch malicious software and detain them in a safe environment within your system where they will not be able to do any harm.

Now that you are better informed on what is a keylogger, you are definitely able to defend yourself online against these threats. Aside from the methods above, you can use self-awareness and gut instinct as tools against a keylogger. If someone sends you an email out of the cold or the contents of the email are asking for your personal information, chances are there's a keylogger in there somewhere.