Consumers and employees are increasingly becoming familiar with the risks of their private and business information being hacked, systems infected by viruses or becoming the victims of scams, but keylogging remains for many an unfamiliar threat.
What is keylogging?
Keylogging—also called system monitoring, keystroke logging and key tracking—is the ability to track keys that are pressed on a user’s keyboard, usually without the user’s knowledge. Keyloggers can take use software or hardware to accomplish this.
Keylogging software monitors the activity of a specific computer or user by recording keystrokes and uploading this information over the Internet to a predetermined online location. It can be downloaded on an unaware targeted user’s computer either on purpose or using spyware. No physical access is required for this method.
These are small hardware devices that are used to monitor every keystroke that is taken by a user on a specific keyboard. Most devices physically look like a small plug that is used as a connector cable between a computer and keyboard.
Since the devices look like a regular keyboard component, they often go unnoticed by the intended target. User data is collected as the user types and is saved on a small hard drive that exists on the device. The device must be picked up to gain access to the information being recorded.p>
Common uses for keylogging
Keylogging can be used for both acceptable intentions—parent’s monitoring their children’s Internet use or companies monitoring employee productivity—or for the criminal purposes of stealing or exposing confidential information.
Advocates of privacy online are in agreement that some form of legal guidelines need to be established to have legal ramification for unlawful use of keylogging.
Common keylogging features
While there are many different keylogging programs and methods to carry it out, a few features and capabilities are commonly found.
Web logging: The ability to track Internet activity such as pages visited, links clicked and emails read or written.
- Chat logging: The ability to track a user’s chat history in instant messaging and social platforms.
- Screenshot logging: The ability to take screenshots of a user’s computer, which can be saved in .jpg format.
- Microphone logging: The ability to record the sounds through the computer microphone.
Password protection: Many keylogging programs are password protected, so others cannot see the information that is being tracked.
- Log viewer: The ability to manage, view, and filter all of the log files tracked and recorded.
- Log delivery: The ability to receive logs via email, FTP, over a LAN, or through the use of a USB key.
- Account management: The ability to monitor and manage a number of unique user accounts simultaneously.
Operating system versatility: The ability to be used on numerous operating systems.
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