Keyloggers are one of the most dangerous threats to your computer security, as they can record and steal your sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and personal messages. Keyloggers can be installed on your computer by hackers, malware, or even by someone who has physical access to your device. In this article, we will explain what keyloggers are, how they work, and how you can protect yourself from them.
What is a Keylogger?
A keylogger, also known as a keystroke logger, is a type of spyware that can monitor and record every keystroke and touch you make on your keyboard, mouse, or screen. Some keyloggers can also capture screenshots, web links, and other user input actions. When a keylogger is active, everything you type or input on your computer is stored in a log file, which can then be sent to the attacker or accessed by them later. The attacker can use this information to access your online accounts, steal your identity, or commit fraud.
How Do Keyloggers Get on Your Computer?
There are two main types of keyloggers: software and hardware. Software keyloggers are programs that are installed on your computer, usually without your knowledge or consent. They can be downloaded from malicious websites, attached to email attachments, or bundled with other malware. Hardware keyloggers are physical devices that are attached to your computer, such as a USB stick, a keyboard cable, or a card reader. They can be inserted by someone who has access to your computer, or by a technician who repairs your device.
How to Detect Keyloggers on Your Computer?
Detecting keyloggers on your computer can be difficult, as they are designed to be stealthy and invisible. However, there are some signs and methods that can help you identify them. Here are some of them:
- Check your computer performance. If your computer is running slower than usual, or if you notice unusual activity on your network, such as high data usage or traffic, it could indicate that a keylogger is sending your information to the attacker.
- Check your antivirus software. A reliable and up-to-date antivirus software can detect and remove most keyloggers from your computer. You should scan your computer regularly and update your antivirus definitions frequently.
- Check your task manager. You can use the Windows Task Manager to look for suspicious or unknown processes that could be hiding the keylogger. To open the Task Manager, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and select Task Manager. Look for processes that have high CPU or memory usage, or that have unusual or random names. If you find any, right-click on them and select End Task. However, be careful not to end any legitimate processes that are essential for your system.
- Check your USB ports and keyboard cable. If you have a hardware keylogger, you can usually spot it by looking at the back of your computer and checking for any unusual devices in your USB ports or connected to your keyboard cable. If you find any, unplug them and dispose of them safely.
How to Remove a Keylogger?
If you have detected a keylogger on your computer, you should remove it as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Here are some steps you can take to remove a keylogger:
- Disconnect your computer from the internet. This will stop the keylogger from sending your information to the attacker, and prevent it from downloading any additional malware.
- Use your antivirus software. As mentioned before, a good antivirus software can help you remove most keyloggers from your computer. You should run a full scan of your system and follow the instructions to delete or quarantine any detected threats.
- Use a specialized tool. If your antivirus software fails to remove the keylogger, you can use a specialized tool that is designed to detect and remove keyloggers. Some examples of such tools are Malwarebytes, Spybot, and Zemana AntiLogger. You can download them from their official websites and follow the instructions to install and run them.
- Restore your system. If none of the above methods work, you can try to restore your system to a previous state, before the keylogger was installed. You can use the Windows System Restore feature to do this. To access it, go to Start, type “System Restore” and select it. Choose a restore point that is before the date you suspect the keylogger was installed, and follow the steps to restore your system. However, this method may not work if the keylogger has disabled or corrupted the System Restore feature.
- Reinstall your system. If all else fails, you can resort to reinstalling your system from scratch. This will erase everything on your computer, including the keylogger and any other malware, but also your personal files and settings. You should backup your important data before doing this, and use a clean installation media, such as a DVD or a USB drive. To reinstall your system, follow the instructions from Microsoft’s website1.
How to Prevent Keyloggers from Getting on Your Computer?
The best way to protect yourself from keyloggers is to prevent them from getting on your computer in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent keyloggers:
- Be careful what you download and run. You should only download and run files from trusted sources, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments. You should also scan any files you download with your antivirus software before opening them.
- Use a firewall. A firewall is a software or hardware device that monitors and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic on your computer. It can help you block unauthorized or malicious connections, and alert you of any suspicious activity. You can use the Windows Firewall, or install a third-party firewall, such as ZoneAlarm or Comodo Firewall.
- Use a virtual keyboard. A virtual keyboard is a software program that allows you to enter text on your screen using your mouse or touchpad, instead of your physical keyboard. This can help you avoid keyloggers that capture your keystrokes, especially when you enter sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. You can use the Windows On-Screen Keyboard, or install a third-party virtual keyboard, such as Oxynger KeyShield or Neo’s SafeKeys.
- Use a password manager. A password manager is a software program that stores and manages your passwords for various online accounts. It can help you create and use strong and unique passwords, and enter them automatically on the websites you visit, without typing them on your keyboard. This can help you avoid keyloggers that capture your passwords, and also protect you from phishing and other online threats. You can use a password manager, such as LastPass, Dashlane, or KeePass.
- Update your system and software. You should keep your system and software updated with the latest security patches and updates, as they can fix any vulnerabilities or bugs that could be exploited by keyloggers or other malware. You can use the Windows Update feature, or check the websites of your software vendors for any updates.
Keyloggers are a serious threat to your computer security, as they can record and steal your sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and personal messages. Keyloggers can be installed on your computer by hackers, malware, or even by someone who has physical access to your device. To protect yourself from keyloggers, you should follow the steps outlined in this article, such as detecting and removing keyloggers, using a firewall, a virtual keyboard, a password manager, and updating your system and software. By doing so, you can prevent keyloggers from getting on your computer, and safeguard your privacy and security.