What Is a Keylogger? Detect, Remove, and Prevent

Malicious hacking attempts have become more and more common as technology advances. Anti-malware software and keeping with smart online safety practices can help keep users and their information safe. But hackers continue to find new ways to steal data from others, whether it be through viruses, computer worms, or other forms of malware. One of these ways is through tracking users’ keystrokes to capture and use private information for harm. This can be done via a free keylogger.

What Is A Keylogger?

A keylogger, as the name implies, monitors keystrokes on a computer and logs the information. It has malicious capabilities to monitor a user’s bank passwords, personal information, or Social Security number as they type it in to secure sites.

Although it's less common, keyloggers have legitimate uses. IT services, for example, may use keyloggers to troubleshoot technological issues. Keyloggers operate in secret. Even though some legal software programs exist, using them for criminal purposes is always a possibility.

Keylogger Software

There are two kinds of keyloggers: software and devices. Software is much more common—and less detectable. They target computers or target devices. Not all software works the same way, however; there are several broad categories of keylogger software that users should be aware of.

API-based (application programming interface-based) keyloggers are the most common of all software. Keyboard API interception allows hackers to capture notifications for each key you type and log them, meaning they are able to piece together anything the user has typed.

Kernel-based keyloggers impede your computer’s kernel, or core operating system. Kernel-based keyloggers are one of the most difficult types to detect because of how they interact with the computer’s operating system, but they are also rare. Like API-based keyloggers, kernel-based keyloggers record keystrokes to capture anything typed on a computer.

Form grabbing-based keyloggers capture data from web forms. It's like capturing screenshots. From there, the hacker logs any information on the form. Your name, phone number, bank information, address, Social Security number, and more are all at risk.

Like all keyloggers, the process is almost undetectable, as the interception occurs right as the user submits a form.

How Do I Get A Keylogger?

You can purchase and install this type of software on your own. This is usually done by someone close to a user who wants their information for something other than monetary purposes, like a parent monitoring a child’s Internet searches. However, they can also be installed via malware.

Users could open an email and download a malicious file. If that user accidentally installs the software, they may not even know it's been downloaded.

Infected sites and other malicious programs can also put keylogger software on a computer. It’s important for users to keep their security up-to-date to limit the chances of accidentally downloading a malicious program.

Keylogger Devices

As mentioned above, devices also exist, but they are less convenient for hackers because they require someone with malicious intent to have direct physical access to a keyboard. For example, to use hardware to monitor keystrokes, you must build it directly into the keyboard. They monitor keystrokes like software.

The device keeps keystroke logs like API-based or kernel-based loggers. However, the device must be retrieved in order to be useful because the keystrokes are recorded in the device.

Using A Detector

It can be difficult to detect keyloggers. Software such as this often masquerades in other forms or gets on your device through another form of software. Root kits are commonly used by hackers to get keylogger software onto an individual’s computer. They're hard to detect and can easily allow malware to infiltrate a device.

Keyloggers often fall under the category of Trojan malware, which also makes them hard to detect.

Keyloggers are easier to detect if they’re in conjunction with malware, as users will likely notice something “off” about their computer in general. Commercial-grade software created for the sole purpose of logging information can sometimes be harder to locate, as they generally operate without disturbing any other computer functions.

However, it's possible to detect this type of software, with anti-malware software that serves as a keylogger detector. Norton 360 or Bitdefender can detect them with high accuracy. Running scans on your computer regularly helps keep your device secure. Keeping an eye on your computer’s function can also help make sure you don’t fall victim to any hackers’ attempts.

Keyloggers For Mobile Devices

There are many software programs with variations that work on cell phones. Phone keyboards arguably give even more information to hackers. Users type into your phone things you wouldn’t have to input into your computer (like phone passwords and text messages). If you think you may have a keylogger on your phone, check for a few of the following signs:

  • Your phone’s battery doesn’t hold charge well or drains quickly
  • Your phone is hot to the touch, a sign your phone has programs open that it shouldn’t
  • You’ve received strange text messages recently, which could be a way for hackers to incorporate on your phone
  • Your phone turns off and on randomly

Antivirus software and a phone reset can help purge the unwanted software from your device.

iPhone app

Not all keylogger for iPhones are legitimate. Some can cause harm to your device. Spyier is a good keylogger for iPhone app.

The keylogger for iPhones is a program that allows users to not only monitor keystrokes but also location, call logs, and other data from any iPhone. As a plus, you can use the app without jailbreaking your device.

The keylogger for iPhones follows the overall concept above for mobile devices, but to simply state again be careful in trying to find a keylogger for iPhones, as some can harm your device.

Android app

Spyine is a solid keylogger app for Android. Spyine also does not require a jailbroken phone to work. In addition to the typical functions, the app for Androids can also help users monitor their own devices for unwarranted activity.

How To Use

Anyone can use this type of software. But, while it’s not innately illegal, users should be highly cautious about what they use the  software for. Legal uses are monitoring your own child’s online activity or keeping logs on employee’s activity at work in states that permit monitoring. It's also acceptable use keystroke information for IT purposes.

Logging keystrokes to learn someone’s bank account information, hack into their messages and personal data, or do anything with malicious intent is not legal or morally okay.

That being said, a free keylogger is available to the general public for download if the user has good intent. Refog’s free keylogger software has several variations for personal or employee use. Kidlogger focuses on monitoring your child’s Internet activity, as the program isn’t invisible and has the potential to be spotted and deleted by older children or adults.

Revealer Keylogger has become the world's most downloaded free keylogger software and used for general purposes. In your search for a free keylogger for good intentions, just be sure it's verified against any malicious use.

As long as you’re using the software for legitimate reasons, feel free to give any of the above software a try!