What Is A Keylogger | Step By Step Guide

What is a keylogger

What is a keylogger?

Keyloggers are also known as keystroke loggers. They start immediately after the start of the operating system. The keylogger records every keystroke of any key or only those that will be made in certain fields on sites.

Keyloggers can be integrated into the operating system of a computer. This type of malware is called rootkits. There are keyloggers that can work at a lower level. For example, it can be added to the browser as a hidden extension.

There are many scenarios for keyloggers. It is especially difficult to counteract the rootkit. Antivirus programs usually cannot reach this level, and therefore such keyloggers continue to work without any interference.

In other words, we can say that keylogger (KL) is a tool designed to record all keystrokes on a computer, through software or a hardware device. This recording activity from the keyboard is also called keylogging or keystroke logging.

Keylogger Definition

A keylogger is any component of software or equipment that can intercept and record all manipulations with a computer keyboard. 

Often, a keylogger is located between the keyboard and the operating system and intercepts all user actions. This tool either stores the intercepted information on the infected computer or, if it is part of a larger attack, all data is immediately transferred to the remote computer of the attack organizers. 

Although the term "keylogger" is usually called malware, sometimes it is also used by law enforcement agencies.

Positive use of keylogger

Despite the fact that they are used for illegal activities, keyloggers have several positive options for exploitation. 

If it is used with good intentions, it can help parents monitor their children's activities on a PC or be used by an employer to determine how their employees use their PCs during the work period. 

However, it should be noted that this should only be done with the voluntary consent of the staff. 

A keylogger can also be used to protect (write) passwords and other data in the event of an operating system failure (but there are certainly better ways to do this). In addition, keystroke logging was recently adopted by scientists as a tool for studying the processes of human writing.

Negative use of keylogger

As the name implies, the purpose of the keylogger is to record each keystroke from the target computer, which is not always bad. 

But unfortunately, the most common use of a keylogger is related to malicious activity. 

Keylogger programs are widely used by cybercriminals as a way to steal confidential information from victims, such as credit card numbers, passwords, personal letters, bank credentials, driver’s license numbers, etc.

Types of keylogger

As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of keylogging devices. There are a software and hardware version. When it comes to software and hardware keyloggers, it is important to understand the differences between the two types. 

Although the most common is the software version, you should understand how the hardware Keylogger works.

Hardware Keylogger

1. It usually consists of a small chip or wire that is physically attached to a computer or laptop.

2. Most hardware Keyloggers can be easily removed.

3. The extracted information can be viewed using a coordinating computer program, even after removing the chip or wire.

4. It is usually the preferred type of keylogger for companies that care about their employees.

5. The uniqueness of software keyloggers is the KL firmware version, which can be connected to the computer BIOS and write data as soon as it turns on.

6. Keylogger wireless sniffers are capable of intercepting communications between wireless keyboards and a computer.

Software Keylogger

Unfortunately, a software keylogger is much harder to detect. There are many different categories, with different methods and technologies, but in general, we can consider the following:

1. It usually consists of software that was secretly installed by a hacker on your computer. You can download directly to the host computer (for example, using phishing attacks), or remotely.

2. The most common software keyloggers record only the activity of the computer keyboard, but there are modified versions that can take screenshots and clipboard logging.

3. Less common types of software Keylogger include those that are based on Javascript (entered on websites), APIs (running within the application), and web forms (recording any data presented in web forms).

Hardware keylogger prevention

It is very unlikely that you may have a hardware keylogger, especially in the privacy of your own home. 

However, this is possible in a public environment. Since the USB port is usually used for the hardware keylogger, your main protection will be to use random checks in the USB area of ​​your computer.

When entering confidential information such as a password, you can also use the mouse to confuse the keylogger, if any. For example, first, enter the last character of your password, and then move the cursor to enter the rest. 

The keylogger will register the last character as the first. Selecting and replacing text during input is also an option. You can try many different ways or other methods to trick tipping. However, these methods are not very functional, and may not work with more complex keyloggers, which also record the screen or mouse activity.

Implement two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is the best way to protect yourself from keyloggers because if the attacker knows your password then also he will not be able to log in.

Use the virtual keyboard. Use the virtual keyboard if you use virtual keyboard then keylogger will not be able to record your strokes.

Software keylogger prevention

Software keyloggers are more difficult to detect, but installing a good antivirus will most likely help you to be safe.

Installing an anti-keylogger software is also an option, as it is specifically designed to detect, remove, and prevent keylogger attacks.

Be careful with email attachments and links. Do not click on ads or sites from an unknown source.

Update your software applications and operating system

Any user who uses Internet banking or any other online activity that is related to money should be especially careful (including adherents of cryptocurrencies and traders).

method of implementing two-factor authentication and the use of a virtual keyboard applies to the software keyboard also.

But nowadays some keylogger has the capability to record the virtual keyboard too.

How keyloggers spread?

  • When the user visits the malicious website keylogger can be installed through a malicious webpage script.
  • A keylogger can be installed if the user opens a malicious file attached to an email.
  • A keylogger can be installed if the user opens any unwanted malicious file given by hackers by social engineering.
  • A keylogger can be installed if you download any software from the unwanted website. Because many hackers bind keyloggers in the software.

How hackers install a Keylogger?

Hackers can install keyloggers in your system through many steps. Hackers can send you an email by attaching a malicious file in it. As you click on the email and open the file the keylogger will get installed without your information.

Another method is to install a keylogger through the website. Hacker can create a malicious website and send to you by social engineering technique. As you click on the website malicious JavaScript will run and if you click allow on the website page the keylogger will get downloaded.

Another method is to bind a keylogger in software. For example, hackers will bind a keylogger in the UC browser and send UC browser app to you as you install the browser keylogger will get activated in your system.

How to detect Keylogger

The easiest way to detect keylogger software is to open the task manager and check the running processes. 

Many of the background processes have strange names. If there is something that looks strange, you should look it up on the Internet and try to find out if it is a legal program or a well-known keylogger. 

In addition, it is also important to examine your outgoing traffic from your computer.

How to remove keylogger

A comprehensive anti-keylogger should check all processes running on your computer: BIOS, operating system, background services. As well as network settings, plugins and browser settings.

To get rid of the keylogger, you may have to reinstall the operating system.

Many keyloggers are rootkits. Therefore, you may also need a specialized utility against this type of virus. The following is a list of programs that will help to remove keyloggers.

1. Spyshelter

The utility has several levels of counteraction to keyloggers. After installation, this program will work continuously. Thus, she will be able to block the installation of keyloggers on a PC.

SpyShelter's second line of defense is to check for suspicious transactions. If a malware program is detected, SpyShelter will try to remove it.

For complete computer protection, SpyShelter will encrypt all keystrokes to make reading them pointless for keyloggers.

2. Zemana

Zemana provides a range of anti-malware tools. But they are worse at identifying keyloggers, compared with the previous utility.

Zemana also includes a data encryption tool, ad blocker, and a malware scanner.

This utility constantly runs in the background, tracking activity, and scanning downloads for malicious software.

Click here to download Zemana.

3. Malwarebytes anti-rootkit

The application scans the operating system for a number of rootkit viruses, and not just keyloggers.

The utility scans the system on demand and does not work in continuous mode. If the cleaning operation cannot solve all the problems, you can use the fix damage tool. It will help to efficiently configure the firewall.

4. Norton Power Eraser

Norton Power Eraser scans your computer more deeply than regular antivirus programs. When suspicious programs are detected, the utility immediately removes them. 

This approach can lead to an unexpected loss of the right applications. Therefore, when using Norton Power Eraser, you will have to reinstall the necessary software.

5. McAffe rootkit remover

Another free rootkit removal tool developed by one of the industry leaders. The on-demand utility will scan the system and remove all viruses found in it.

6. Kaspersky Security scan

The free version of Kaspersky Security Scan scans your computer for malware. Paid software products from this developer include personal data protection modules.

7. Sophos rootkit removal 

This program scans the operating system on demand and removes any rootkits, including keyloggers.

8. GMER 

GMER is an application that detects and removes the rootkit.

9. Avast rootkit scanner tool.

This rootkit scanner is an Avast product. You can use it for free.

10. Bitfinder Rootkit remover

Bitdefender discovers new rootkits before its competitors. As soon as its scanners detect a new virus, it enters the spyware database.

Keyloggers can be legal and illegal depending on the way you use them. Suppose if you are using keyloggers for activities such as stealing user data and personal details or bank account details then keyloggers are illegal.

Keyloggers are legal if you are using the software for parental control (monitoring your kid's activities) or employee monitoring.  But keep in mind that you must have administrator rights to install the keylogging program on someone else’s device.

Many employers install keyloggers to monitor the activities of their employees at work. Monitoring software can help reduce time loss and increase employee productivity. 

Keyloggers can also be very useful when you need to protect your corporate data and collect evidence for the legal protection of your company.

In addition, keyloggers are very useful when it comes to monitoring children. Good monitoring software can solve many problems at a time: you protect your children from watching porn at a small age, you can manage their time and block unwanted websites. 

Keyloggers are often used by parents who want to make sure their children are safe on the Internet, as there are many predators on the Internet. In addition, they can be used to study the interaction of a person with a computer.

I have created a list of top 10 keyloggers, and I hope you find the one that best suits your needs.

Top 10 best  keylogger for PC

1. Windows Spy keylogger

Windows Spy Keylogger is a fairly classic example of a keylogger - it removes all keyboard input and saves it to the log files. It has an invisible mode, practically does not consume operating system resources, is easy to install, and can be installed on a computer without administrator rights.

2. Spytector

Spytector is an undetectable keylogger. Spytector works secretly on the computer, saves passwords entered in browsers and instant messengers Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Outlook, GoogleTalk, Windows Live Messenger, and other applications. A keylogger can intercept entire chats in popular instant messengers - MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, AIM. Spytector Keylogger encrypts the captured information and sends it by e-mail or to an FTP server.

3. All in one keylogger

All In One Keylogger logs all keystrokes, including specific language characters, conversations, and conversation messages, passwords, email, clipboard information, microphone sounds, screenshots, Internet activities. The spy does not appear in running processes.

4. Spyrix free keylogger

Spyrix keylogger allows you to conduct hidden monitoring of any activity on your computer - in social networks (Twitter, Instagram Facebook, etc.), chatting and e-mail, visiting websites, and queries in search engines. Spyrix keylogger is a spy designed for centralized monitoring of all user activities.

5. Ardamax Keylogger

Ardamax Keylogger - takes screenshots, intercepts the clipboard and keystrokes on the keyboard. The spy has a hidden mode and it is not visible in the task manager. The program creates a log of all actions for subsequent analysis.

6. Kidlogger Pro

KidLogger PRO is an open-source keylogger that can record sound from a microphone, take screenshots. 

Logs/screenshots can be delivered to the mail, or to the manufacturer’s website, where they can already be viewed. It can also just store logs with screenshots locally.

Kidlogger pro specially designed to monitor your kid's activity.

7. REFOG personal monitor

REFOG Personal Monitor provides full control over the system, logs any keystrokes. In addition, he periodically takes screenshots so that the observer has a complete picture of what is happening on the computer. 

All reports are sent to the specified email. The work of the spy is not noticeable on the computer: it does not betray itself and consumes very few system resources.

8. Webwatcher

WebWatcher records all the activity that occurs on the PC: emails, messenger messages, information about visited sites, activity on Facebook / MySpace networks, and everything that the user prints in real-time. 

It takes screenshots and tracks all search queries. All collected information is sent to special servers, on which the observer can familiarize himself with the results of surveillance remotely.

9. PC pandora

PC Pandora - hiding in the system and controls the entire computer and Internet traffic. It takes screenshots, receives keyboard input, actions on visited websites, e-mails, instant messages of instant messengers, and collects a lot of other information about the user's work. 

The program does not have a folder in which it stores its data. Everything is loaded into the operating system, and each new installation on the same or another computer is done with new file names.

10. NeoSpy

Spy NeoSpy - a program for tracking a computer, allows you to conduct covert monitoring of the system. It monitors all actions performed by users on the monitor screen via the Internet from a computer, smartphone, and tablet.

How to choose the best keylogger?

You may be confused after seeing many keyloggers so this question may arise in your mind that how to choose the best keylogger. 

According to me Spyrix keylogger and KidInspector are the best keyloggers. Both the free and premium versions of the keyloggers are available on the official site of these keyloggers.

Use keylogger for legal purposes only don't use keylogger for a hacking purpose otherwise you may be in trouble.

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