What are keyloggers and how to get rid of them

KeyLogger is a malicious program that is difficult for antivirus to detect and can read and steal anything typed on the keyboard

One of the most dangerous weapons used by hackers are keyloggers, systems that can read and steal anything typed on the keyboard. Often, they leave no trace and victims do not realize that there are keyloggers in action on their computers, hidden somewhere.

Generally, a keylogger is a malicious program that sneaks onto users' machines even through software that antivirus programs believe to be legitimate. Like a simple Trojan horse, once installed, it takes over the data of the unfortunate ones. In rare cases, the keylogger can also be a hardware item, manually inserted on computers. Sometimes they are used to keep tabs on employees' use of computers in the company. Keyloggers are sneaky because they allow hackers to record every letter, character and symbol the user introduces on the keyboard. And like most malware, these viruses send the collected information to a server.

Why is keylogger dangerous

The keylogger makes no difference whether the user is online or offline, but captures any information. Some keyloggers, however, are also intelligent. That is, they are able to filter the data typed by users, so as to steal the most important ones. For example, they may decide to record login credentials of email accounts or bank accounts. A virus belonging to this inglorious family has two ways to deliver the stolen data. One, as we have seen, is to send the loot to a server. The other, and little used, stores everything on the machine and requires physical access to the computer.

How it infects victims

The keylogger's modus operandi is similar to most malware and almost always requires the involuntary cooperation of victims. It can be contained in an email attachment or hide, as we have seen, inside a program. It often happens that users, convinced that they are downloading reliable software, find a keylogger on their computer. In fact, it is very difficult to detect this virus because it is mainly spread through an .exe file. This is an extension used by many programs, even legitimate ones. An antivirus, therefore, may struggle to detect the computer threat.

How to delete a keylogger

The easiest way is to entrust antivirus with the task of finding and eliminating keyloggers from the machine. There are several of them and they are also free. Or you could resort to programs that specialize precisely in malware removal. If, however, you think you have been hit by a keylogger, many experts recommend using the virtual keyboard that would be immune to keyloggers.

There are also many other methods to find out if we have a keylogger in our pc (both hardware keyloggers, so physically inserted for example under the keys of the pc, but also the most common software keyloggers, installed in the pc and difficult to discover) and as many methods to delete the keylogger from the pc safely. For example, an article by Cybersecurity360 explains how to discover and eliminate a keylogger from our pc in a simple way through dedicated software or a bit of intuition".

How to defend yourself

To protect yourself from keyloggers, as well as from any form of malware, you need to keep your computer and antivirus updated against the latest threats. Also, it is essential not to open executable files that come from unknown senders or downloaded from untrusted websites. It is good practice to rely only on the official portals of software manufacturers.