What are keyloggers and how to remove them

by - - | Type: Keyloggers
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A keylogger is a computer program that logs each keystroke on a keyboard and saves this data into a file. Once it collects the needed amount of data, it transfers it via the Internet to a predetermined remote host. It also can capture screenshots and use other techniques for tracking user's activity. Keylogger can cause the loss of passwords, login data, and similar information.

There are two types of keyloggers: the hardware and the software. The hardware keylogger is a small physical device that can be dropped between the keyboard’s plug and the computer’s keyboard port. A hardware keylogger records all keystrokes and saves them into own memory. Such device does not rely on a particular software or a driver. Therefore, it can work under different environments. However, it does not take screenshots and can be easily found during a thorough computer inspection.Software keyloggers are divided into parasitical and legitimate applications.

Malicious keyloggers are very similar to viruses and trojans. They are used by hackers to violate user privacy. Legitimate keyloggers, also known as computer surveillance tools, are commercial products targeted mostly to parents, employers and teachers. They allow to find out what children or employees are doing online. However, even legal programs work without the monitored user’s knowledge and consent. They can also be used by malicious persons and, therefore, are not classified as less harmful threats than the certain parasites.

Dangerous activities that can be initiated by the Keylogger

Practically all keyloggers seek to violate user's privacy. They can track their victims for months and even years until they are noticed. During all this time, a regular keylogger is capable of finding out as much information about the user as possible. Someone who controls a keylogger gets priceless information, including passwords, login names, credit card numbers, bank account details, contacts, interests, web browsing habits and much more. All this information can be used to steal victim's personal documents and the money.

To sum up, a regular keylogger is capable of initiating these activities:

  • Logging keystrokes on the keyboard.
  • Taking screenshots of user's activity on the Internet at predetermined time intervals.
  • Tracking user's activity by logging window titles, names of launched applications, and other specific information.
  • Monitoring user's online activity by recording addresses of visited websites, entered keywords and other similar data.
  • Recording login names, details of various accounts, credit card numbers and passwords.
  • Capturing online chat conversations on instant messengers.
  • Making unauthorized copies of outgoing and incoming e-mail messages.
  • Saving all collected information into a file on a hard disk, and then silently sending this file to a required e-mail address.
  • Complicating its detection and removal.

Keyloggers cannot be compared with regular computer viruses. They do not spread themselves as these threats do and, in most of the cases, must be installed as any other software.

The major ways that are used by Keyloggers to infiltrate the system:

There are two methods that are used by the keystroke logging program to get into the system. Here are both of them:

  • A legitimate keylogger can be manually installed on the system by its administrator or any other user who has needed privileges for this activity. A hacker can break into the system and setup his keylogger. In both cases, a privacy threat gets installed on the system without user’s knowledge and consent.
  • Malicious keyloggers can be installed on the system with the help of other parasites, such as viruses, trojans, backdoors or other malware. They get into the system without user's knowledge and affect everybody who uses a compromised computer. Such keyloggers do not have any uninstall functions and can be controlled only by their authors or attackers.

In most of the cases, keyloggers affect computers running Microsoft Windows operating system. However, all viruses are constantly updated, so there is no guarantee that they are not capable of hijacking other popular platforms.

The most dangerous threats of this type that are spreading online

There are lots of different keystroke logging applications, both commercial and parasitical. The following examples illustrate typical keylogger behavior.

AllInOne Keylogger is a malicious program targeted at PC users and their personal information. Typically, people who work behind it, seek to steal as much information as possible. AllInOne KeyLogger is designed to record all user's keystrokes, take the screenshots and initiate other activities. You can hardly notice this threat on your computer as it hides deep inside the system. 

Invisible Stealth Keylogger is the harmful trojan horse with keystroke-logging functions. This parasite not only records every user's keystroke but also gives the opportunity for the remote attacker to have unauthorized access to a compromised computer. He or she can easily download and execute arbitrary code, steal user’s vital information (passwords, e-mail messages or bank account details). Once it collects needed amount of data, this threat sends it to the attacker through a background Internet connection. Moreover, they can cause general system instability and even corrupt files or installed applications.

Perfect Keylogger is a complex computer surveillance tool with rich functionality. It records all user keystrokes and passwords, takes screenshots, tracks user activity on the Internet, captures chat conversations and e-mail messages. Perfect Keylogger can be remotely controlled. It can send gathered data to a configurable e-mail address or upload it to a predefined FTP server. Although it is a commercial product, it’s even more dangerous than most parasitical keyloggers.

How to remove keylogger and fix the affected PC system

Unfortunately, but there is no method for retrieving stolen data. That's why you should remove the keylogger from your computer as soon as possible. This can be done using a reliable anti-spyware. In order to avoid the loss of legitimate programs that are important for stable PC's functionality, we recommend using one of these programs: Reimage, Malwarebytes Anti Malware. Each of them was tested by our security experts and have been approved to have an extensive parasite signature database. If you have any question related to Keylogger removal, you can share your question with us using the Ask Us page. We will be glad to help you solve your problems.

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Information updated: 2016-08-05

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