Keyloggers: How to Know if a Hacker is Tracking You

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Whenever we use our computers, we save a lot of valuable information on them — whether it be photos, videos, or documents that give more information about our personal or professional lives. Even the searches and browsing that we do on the internet can expose us to become victims of cybercrimes. One of the methods that can go mostly unnoticed by victims is “keyloggers.”

This is a software or hardware that registers every key you press.  The surprising thing is that these programs are legal if used under supervision, and can be downloaded online. Many are used by employees of large IT companies in order to control worker productivity.  They are even quite useful for parents who want to monitor their children’s internet activity and prevent them from entering dangerous or adult-content websites. It’s the misuse of these tools that allows data theft.  

The cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Lab, assures that this malicious software allows access to passwords, chats, histories, credit card numbers, and any other type of confidential information. Criminals can, therefore, exploit this information and access all of the user’s accounts without that individual knowing it.  

How to identify if I’m a victim of a keylogger?

The dangerous thing about a keylogger is its complexity of being detected. If it’s the spy software version, it can be within an operating system or on the computer’s memory, as part of the keyboard controls, etc. There are even antivirus programs that don’t completely detect keyloggers, which are camouflaged as common files or even reinstall themselves automatically without the need for administrator permission. 

It’s easier to detect if the keylogger is hardware, that is, an unusual external device. We can check if our keyboard has an extra and suspicious piece. Sometimes, it will be necessary to open the device to find the keylogger. 

How can I protect myself?

In order to avoid being a victim of these kinds of attacks, always buy original devices in regards to hardware, and don’t accept external accessories like USBs from unknown people. 

Regarding software, avoid opening suspicious emails that have a download link or attached file. If you enter a website and a file suddenly downloads on your browser, delete it immediately. Another method is to download programs that detect if your computer is acting strangely: 

“System processes can be reviewed through the task manager.  Although it’s also possible that they aren’t identified there because the malicious process could be injected into other processes. So, there are other free tools like Sysinternals from Windows, which not only detail system processes but also the threads of each process. It allows users to see if, for example, some rare movement can be identified, as the connection to a server in another country.” Declared Denise Giusto of Eset for the digital news source, Infobae. 

It’s recommended to always keep your device updated. Be it your browser with the latest security plugins, or your operating system. Also, many keyloggers are propagated through downloading and pirating web pages; so it’s best to avoid these sites. And, lastly, it’s always recommended to invest in a total antivirus solution, which includes anti-spyware and real-time protection. 

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