What is Keylogger?

What is Keyloggers?

What is Keylogger? – Keystroke logging(Keylogger) and Keyboard capturing is a process of monitoring or recording the actions performed by any user such as monitoring a user using Keyloggers.

Keyloggers can be either hardware or software. The major purpose of using keyloggers are monitoring data copied to the clipboard, screenshots captured by the user, screen logging by capturing a screenshot at every moment even when the user just clicked.

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Legitimate applications for keyloggers include in office and industial settings to monitor employee’s computer activities and in home environment where parents can monitor and spy on children’s activity.

It allows attacker to gather confidential information about victim such as email ID passwords, banking details, chat room activity, IRC, instanst messages, etc.

Physical Keyloggers are placed between the Keyboard hardware and the operating system.


History Of Keylogger

The use of keyloggers reaches back to the 1970s, where the Soviet Union developed a hardware keylogging device for electric typewriters. The keylogger, called the selectric bug, would track the movements of the printhead by measuring the magnetic field emitted by the movements of the printhead. The selectric bug was made to target IBM Selectric typewriters and was used to spy on U.S. diplomats in the U.S. embassy and consulate buildings in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. The keyloggers were found in 16 typewriters and were in use up until 1984, when a U.S. ally who was a separate target of this operation caught the intrusion.

Another early keylogger was a software keylogger written by Perry Kivolowitz in 1983. The user mode keylogger located and dumped character lists in a Unix kernel.

Since then, the use of keyloggers has broadened, notably starting in the 1990s. More keylogger malware was developed, meaning attackers didn’t have to install hardware keyloggers, enabling attackers to steal private data such as credit card numbers from unsuspecting victims in a remote location. The use of keyloggers started to target home users for fraud, as well as in different industries for Phishing purposes.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began warning hotel businesses about keyloggers, after an incident where a keylogger was found in hotels in Dallas, Texas. Publicly accessible computers in shared environments are good targets for keyloggers. In 2015, a mod for the game Grand Theft Auto V had a keylogger hidden in it. In 2017, a keylogger was also found in HP laptops, which HP patched out, explaining that they were used as a debugging tool for the software.

Type of Keylogger

Type of Keylogger
  • Software Keylogger

Software-based Keyloggers performs its function by logging the actions in order to steal information from the target machine. Software-based Keyloggers are remotely installed, or an attacker may send it to user and user can accidentally execute the application. Software Keyloggers includes:-

  • Application Keyloggers
  • Kernel Keyloggers
  • Hypervisor-based Keyloggers
  • From Grabbing based Keyloggers

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  • Hardware Keylogger

Hardware-based Keyloggers are physical hardwar’s or Keyloggers which are installed on hardware by physically accessing the device. Firmware-based Keyloggers requires physical access to the machine to load the software into BIOS, keyboard hardware such as key grabber USB is a physical device needs to be installed inline with the keyboard. Hardware Keyloggers are further into classified into following types includes:-

  • PC/BIOS Embedded Keyloggers
  • Keyloggers Keyboard
  • External Keyloggers

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Protection Against Keylogger

While visual inspection can be used to identify hardware keyloggers, it is impractical and time-consuming to implement on a large scale. Instead, individuals can use a firewall to help protect against a keylogger. Since keyloggers will have to transmit data back and forth from the victim to the attacker, there is a chance that the firewall will pick up and prevent that data transfer. Password managers that will automatically fill in username and password fields may also help. Monitoring software and antivirus software can also aid in keeping track of a system’s health and prevent keyloggers retrospectively.

System cages that prevent access to or tampering with USB and PS/2 ports can be added to the user’s desktop setup. Extra precautions include using a Security Token as part of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to ensure an attacker cannot use a stolen password alone to log in to a user’s account, or using an Onscreen Keyboard and Voice-to-Text software to circumvent using a physical keyboard.

Application Whitelisting can also be used to allow only documented, authorized programs to run on a system. It is also always a good idea to keep any system up to date.


Anti-Keyloggers are application software which ensures protection against keylogging. This software eliminates the threat of keylogging by providing SSL protection, keylogging protection, clipboard logging protection and screen logging protection. Some of the Anti-Keylogger sotware are listed below:-

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4 Thoughts to “What is Keylogger?”

  1. […] keylogger software is the program that allows the hacker to capture the keystrokes of the victim’s PC or mobile without knowing that user what is going on. The whole process is done with a background that hides whole activity from that user. And the user doesn’t know that you are spying on them and you will get the password easily. […]

  2. […] way to hack Gmail account. Keylogging involves the use of a small software program called the keylogger. This keylogger when installed on a given computer will capture each and every keystroke typed on […]

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