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July 12, 2022

How to Prevent Keylogger Threats

Keylogging has become a dangerous tactic for cybercriminals to access confidential information or take control of your device. Learning what a keylogger is and how to prevent keylogging malware can help you secure your personal information and stay safe online.

What Is a Keylogger?

A keylogger, also known as a keystroke logger, refers to a type of software or hardware that tracks and records what you type on your keyboard. Although keyloggers can be used legally, cybercriminals can also use them to capture your personal and financial information. Anything you type into your computer, like PIN codes, accounts numbers, credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords can be accessed through keylogging and used by cybercriminals to commit fraud or identity theft.

“Cybercriminals use keylogging software to capture your personal and financial information.”

How Does Keylogging Work?

Whether used legally or illegally, keystroke trackers work the same way. Keylogging software may not be problematic if it came with your device’s software suite, or you signed an agreement to use the device it’s installed on. Illegal keylogging malware comes in a variety of forms that you can often avoid by practicing online safety.

  • Phishing emails. Clicking on a link or downloading an attachment in a phishing email can cause you to accidentally download keylogging malware.
  • Trojan viruses. Hackers use viruses disguised as legitimate files or applications to trick users into downloading a Trojan virus.
  • Infected systems. Cybercriminals can take advantage of devices or systems that have already been infected with other malicious software to install keylogging malware.
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Types of Keyloggers

Typically, hackers use software-based keyloggers that hide in your system and track your activity. Keylogger software can track keystrokes, screenshots, and information copied to your clipboard. Some keyloggers can even access location data or tap into your microphone and camera. Cybercriminals usually employ one of these common types of keylogging software.

  • Application programming interface (API) level software accesses the signals sent from your keyboard to the program you’re typing into, like a word processor or browser.
  • Screen level software, also known as screen scrapers, takes regular screenshots that record what is on your device’s screen.
  • Browser level software records what you type into web forms, including contact information and login credentials.

Keylogging software is more common than keylogging hardware because it’s discrete and readily available. Hardware-based keystroke loggers must be physically connected to a device, which makes them a much less serious threat to your personal devices.

Tips for Preventing Keylogging

Maintaining good cyber hygiene and following online safety best practices can help you stay safe from keylogging. While no solution is entirely foolproof, taking these steps can help reduce your risk of malware and prevent keylogging threats.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication provides an effective defense against keylogging viruses and malware. Two-factor identification adds an additional step when logging into an account or device, requiring a temporary PIN or fingerprint to verify that you own the account you’re logging into. If your passwords are identified via keylogging, two-factor authentication will keep cybercriminals from accessing your accounts remotely.

Only Download Safe Files

Avoid downloading files from unsafe websites or clicking links in an email from an unknown sender. Phishing has become more sophisticated, so you should be cautious of clicking links or downloading attachments from people you know, as their email or other accounts may have been hacked.

Install Antivirus Software

Many antivirus software options now include anti-keylogger and anti-spyware protection. This software can help you identify and avoid keylogging malware. Installing and keeping antivirus software up-to-date prevents having your information stolen.

Use a Password Manager

A password manager is a convenient way to avoid forgetting passwords and they’re also a great way to prevent keylogging attacks. By using a password manager, you won’t display your passwords on a screen or physically type them.

Although keylogger malware relies on stealth, it may show warning signs like slower computer performance or unusually low storage space. Understanding how keylogging works can help you detect and remove keylogging malware.

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