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What are Keyloggers?

Keylogger is a generic term describing the ability of a program to record every keystroke. While the term itself does not mean imply hostility, the keylogger function can be used for harmful purposes.

The most common application of keyloggers is for creating hotkeys and quick shortcuts. By recording the keystrokes of the user and assigning them to an appropriate shortcut, the user-interface provides convenient ways to interact faster. This ability of keyloggers to record every keystroke can be exploited by cyber-criminals to record every keystroke made by the user and thus get access to their IDs and passwords for all of their accounts. Keyloggers are usually installed after the hacker is able to plant a backdoor into the victim's system successfully. Once a backdoor is installed, it continuously sends data that is collected from the victim's system to the attacker. Keyloggers not only come in the form of software there are also certain keylogging devices, although they are rarely seen in use other than in various parental control and monitoring devices.

The threat of keyloggers

Keyloggers do not pose any danger to the system itself and hence are not easily detected by typical anti-malware systems. Their ability to record and transmit keystrokes can cause severe damage to the victim. By gaining access to IDs and passwords of banks and email accounts, hackers can steal money, sensitive information and ruin private lives by wrecking their social media accounts.

The abuse of keyloggers is not just restricted to theft of money and personal data. Keyloggers, when installed in corporate systems, can steal proprietary information, documents classified by governments, product design details, patents, and other data that can fetch a high price in the black market. While it is easier for users to avoid typical malware and phishing content by being cautious and following basic security protocols, combating keyloggers is not so simple. The best way to remain safe from keyloggers is to have the latest version of the anti-virus software installed on the systems. Most of these anti-virus softwares have added various kinds of keyloggers into their database and can detect them. Some of the other ways of protection from keyloggers include- using two-step authentication or generating one-time-passwords, using a virtual keyboard or using devices with proactive protocols for protection against keyloggers. One time passwords are extremely helpful in protection against keyloggers as the passcode is changed during every login session.

Related Article: What Can Small And Medium Businesses Do To Remain Safe

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