Every time we go online, we face a gross abuse of our privacy, either through the ISPs, government, or other data snoopers. The only way we can get even a minuscule of security is through protective software such as a trusted VPN provider.
Now with keyloggers in the picture along with malware, spyware, and adware, anyone can abuse your privacy. Let it be your over possessive partner, a nosy roommate, demeaning boss, or the ISP and the government. And the worst part is that most of us are not aware of how to detect keyloggers.
These keyloggers, also known as keystroke loggers, record movements of your device’s keyboard. This means everything you type in, including passwords and usernames are stored for anyone to get their hands on.
This also includes other sensitive information such as:
- Social security number
- Credit card number
- Private messages
Keyloggers, at times, go as far as taking screenshots of your activity or recording your microphone. However, they don’t necessarily tap into all your activities. Certain keyloggers program a certain way and only get triggered during specific scenarios, let’s say when you try online banking or login to any one of your social accounts.
As detecting keyloggers tend to be tricky, I have therefore compiled this article. However, before we proceed towards “how to detect keyloggers,” it is better to get familiar with how many keyloggers are to look for.
Types of keyloggers
With keyloggers becoming a fairly well-known commodity, they appear in various faces which are as follows:
Keylogging software is often malicious software that is also known as rootkit malware. They embed into your computer’s software and work silently in the background to record every keystroke you make. At times they also take up screenshots or record audio and videos through your microphone and webcam.
Hackers and cybercriminals often sneakily install this software within your computer through malicious links, emails, or phishing campaigns. They then use keyloggers to get their hands over passwords, usernames, credit card numbers, and all kinds of sensitive information.
However, keyloggers are not always used for harmful purposes. These keylogger programs are often installed by companies within work laptops to monitor employees. At times parents may also install such programs within children’s computers to keep a watchful eye on them. Some popular software keyloggers are as follows:
- BlackBox Express
- Spyrix Free Keylogger
- Actual keylogger
- Revealer keylogger
Most of this software is free and is readily available for anyone to make use of.
2. Hardware keylogger
Some keyloggers also appear as hardware and require manual insertion within a device. It is more often in the form of a bridge between the computer and the keyboard, such as a specialized USB device.
This way, while everything seems perfectly functional up to the surface, the device sneakily stores keyboard signals. These keyloggers are hard to detect as they are pure hardware and security software can’t detect them.
Additionally, as these keyloggers act as an intermediary, between the computer and keyboard, they camouflage well to hide from the environment. The only way to detect risks is to look for suspicious hardware at the back of your computer. This can also be connecting your keyboard and PC.
3. Keyloggers for iPhone and Android
With the evident lack of external hardware within modern phones, these devices are fortunately safe from hardware keyloggers. They only remain vulnerable to software keyloggers.
These mobile software keyloggers, however, function in contrast to PC keyloggers. As modern mobile phones have touch screens instead of hardware keyboards, they log every press you make on the screen.
This way, specific keyloggers for iPhone and Android manage to monitor through your camera, microphone, connected devices and networks, messages, and every activity that you carry on. Some standard mobile keylogging software you need to look out for are:
- Spyzie Keylogger
- Highster Mobile
Loading these keyloggers into mobile devices is not considerably tricky. Along with hackers installing it through malicious links and attachments, or through phishing scams, anyone with even temporary access to your cell phone can install it.
How to detect keylogger on PC
There are numerous methods available to detect keyloggers on computers. As manual detection is hard to follow through, we will start with the easiest one available:
Method 1: From the Task Manager
Task manager is an application within the computer that allows users to look up every application running on it. Therefore if you have a keylogger running in the background, you can look it up in the task manager.
- Click Ctrl + Alt + Delete. This will open the task manager
- On the task manager, click on the Process tab.
The process tab contains a list of all the programs that are working in the background. Here look for any file that may seem suspicious to you or may have a suspicious description.
If you are vigilant of your activity, you may be aware of every download you make. Look for anything out of the ordinary. Once you find the malicious file
- Click on it, so it stops working.
Following these steps ensures the keylogger doesn’t work in the background. It somewhat stops from shadowing your keystrokes and sending information to hackers or any party that installed the software in your device in the first place.
Method 2: Do a Malware Scan
Keyloggers are abnormal programs that function the background often with malicious intent. As some of the best anti-malware software comes with keylogger detection, you can do a complete malware scan to detect their presence.
A full malware scan means that the software goes through the whole device and scans every file, document, and hardware present. As this software is developed to detect abnormal activity, any software logging in your data will be removed by the anti-malware software.
This method is also applicable for detecting keyloggers in cell phones. All you need is a legitimate anti-malware software that comes with a dedicated mobile application.
Method 3: Check installed programs
As keyloggers are stealthy, they are often hidden among installed programs. Manually having a thorough check can help you identify the malicious file and get rid of it.
For this, you can follow the given steps:
- Tap on start and open the control panel
- From the control panel select Programs and Feature or Uninstall a Program
Here you can go through every program that is currently present on the computer. If you see any program that is unknown to you and you are confident you haven’t installed it, you can go ahead and uninstall by right-clicking. The uninstallation will remove the keylogger, ridding you of the problem.
How to detect keylogger mobile
Detecting keyloggers is plain out tricky. However, there are few telltale signs through which you can detect their presence in your cell phone, such as:
Method 1: Check background apps
Some telltale signs that a keylogger is running silently as your background application is as follows:
- High battery drains.
- Phone heating up too much
- Its auto restarting
Modern cell phones come with high battery powers, especially when we talk of Androids. However, even despite this, you feel as if your battery is draining out abnormally fast, then a keylogger may be running in the background.
Similarly, high amounts of application or heavy applications running in the background tend to hog up the Ram causing the cell phone to heat up. The cell phone turned off and on automatically is also a telltale sign of a heavy application running in the background.
Keyloggers are designed to work stealthily in the backgrounds; however, looking out for these signs can help you detect them. You can check background apps running in your cell phone by going to settings> task manager> background apps. Here kill any app that seems suspicious.
Method 2: check application manager
The application manager contains information about every application present on the cell phone. If you notice any abnormal activity within your device, you can go through the application manager and get rid of any file you find suspicious.
This mostly happens if you download third party applications apart from those present on the dedicated play store. Most APK files are malicious and are infected with keylogger software. Removing such applications can help you get rid of the problem.
Method 3: scan with an antivirus
Antivirus protection helps protect from abnormalities within a device. As keylogger is an abnormal software that runs to shadow your keyboard movements, an antivirus can help work against it.
Some of the best antivirus software can help protect from such software. These antivirus systems detect these abnormal programs and remove them from the device.
Proper education and knowledge against any malicious software can help protect against infections. Additionally, having a proper protection program can further allow users to remain secure.