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How to Protect Against Cyber Criminals

Besides employing social engineering tactics and setting up phishing websites, hackers and cybercriminals make use of keylogging apps to steal passwords and confidential information. Learn how to defend against it in the following Chicago Daily Herald article written by Ace Computers’ Chris Mallazzo.


What is a keylogging?

Keylogging is a software app that records keystrokes or keys that are pressed on a keyboard. Passwords, credit card numbers, confidential messages and other information are at risk of being recorded and retrieved by a cybercriminal when typed on a keyboard of a compromised computer.

A keylogger app basically positions itself between the keyboard (or input device) and the computer's operating system in order to capture information. It's typically designed to operate in a covert manner to avoid detection.

Keylogging apps can be used by hackers for all kinds of nefarious purposes. By stealing passwords, hackers can access banking and email accounts and lock owners out. They can then use that information to steal money and attempt blackmail. They can deceive friends, colleagues at work and family members as part of identity theft schemes.


How are keylogging apps distributed?

  • Keyloggers can be installed when a user clicks on a link or opens an attachment/file from a phishing mail
  • Keyloggers can be installed through webpage script. This is done by exploiting a vulnerable browser. The keylogger is launched when the user visits the malicious website.
  • A keylogger can be installed when a user opens a file attached to an email
  • A keylogger can be installed via a web page script which exploits a browser's vulnerability. The program will automatically launch when a user visits an infected site
  • A keylogger can exploit an infected system and is sometimes capable of downloading and installing other malware to the system.


How does a keylogger gain access to what is typed?

Hackers and cyber criminals must employ illegal methods to force keyloggers into computers. For instance, hackers can distribute a keylogger on peer-to-peer networks or include one as a file attachment to a phishing email. Anyone unwise enough to open the file becomes victimized. Hackers can exploit browser and operating system vulnerabilities to infect outdated systems. Basically, methods that hackers use to spread other malicious programs can also be used to spread keyloggers.


How to know if a keylogger is installed in a computer.

There's no reliable way to confirm the suspicion that someone is monitoring keystrokes. It's typical for a keylogger to remain undetected while it records keyboard strokes. However, a computer with a keylogger installed may show symptoms as if it were infected by malware. These symptoms include:

  • Websites loading at a slower rate than usual
  • The mouse and keyboard behaving abnormally, and
  • Error messages appearing frequently.

Note that these symptoms tend to manifest long after a keylogger has infected the computer and sent valuable information to hackers and unauthorized users.


How to prevent a keylogger attack

Antivirus software does not provide basic protection against keyloggers; it does not detect keylogging software. The most effective way to stop keyloggers is to use a keyboard encryption program. For example, GuardedID stops malicious keylogging programs by encrypting keystroke data and routing it directly to the internet browser or desktop through a secure pathway that's invisible to keyloggers.

Traditional keystroke data flows through a series of steps before it appears on the monitor. Hidden in these steps is an area of vulnerability where cyber criminals try to take advantage using keylogging spyware. This software bypasses the hidden places keyloggers can reside, helping to eliminate vulnerability to attack. As a second level of security, GuardedID protects the pathway it creates with a military-grade 256-bit encryption code. It also sends out a sequence of meaningless numbers in place of keystrokes, making any data collected by hackers completely useless.

Read the full article here: Keylogging - How it Works and How to Protect Against Cyber Criminals

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