Keylogging is a shortened form of “keystroke logging“. Keystroke refers to recording the keys pressed on the keyboard of a computer. Although not always, this technique is usually used for malicious purposes. The software used for the recording of keystrokes is called keylogger or keystroke logger.
Since it is mostly used for malicious purposes, this calls for you to finds ways to protect yourself from keyloggers and their intent to destroy your computing experience. If a keylogger is installed on your computer, it will record all the keystrokes pressed by the keyboard and may send it to a remote user. This means the remote user can virtually have access to your computer along with all the credentials/passwords and other information which is critical to you.
This is why it is important to know about keyloggers and how to block keyloggers from your Operating System. If your computer is publicly accessible, then you should also be wary of hardware keyloggers which get connected to the computer and will relay the keyboard keystrokes to a remote user.
Types of Keyloggers
There are different types of keyloggers based on how they perform the recording of keyboard key presses. Let’s look into the types of keyloggers before moving further.
- Hypervisor-based keyloggers
- Kernel-based keyloggers
- API-based keyloggers
- Memory-injection keyloggers
- Form-grabbing keyloggers
Form-grabbing keyloggers are the most common ones because of their web-based nature. These keyloggers will grab the data which is input into a web form on any browser and will even work in a secure HTTPS-based connection. The browser does not know about the data theft, as the data is first copied by the keylogger and then passed over to the web browser.
In this article, we will be specifically talking about the last category – form-grabbing keyloggers. If you are using a good Internet security suite, it should contain an anti-keylogger to warn you about keylogging being done on your browser or keyboard.
Protecting against keyloggers in Windows
While Windows includes a basic anti-virus, firewall and an anti-spyware (Windows Defender), most forms of keyloggers will already get blocked from the system but if you have sensitive data, you need to take extra precautionary measures to protect yourself from keylogging malware.
Makeuseof gives a few good points for preventing keyloggers and keep your system safe. Here are some points to consider:
- Use a good firewall – If you are using Windows Firewall, keep an eye on what traffic goes out of the system.
- Use a good antivirus and keep an eye on suspicious programs running in your system (keep checking the processes in the task manager).
- Install a password manager – Lastpass is the password manager of my choice. Avoid typing sensitive information like passwords, credit card info, etc. Use the password manager instead with an on-screen keyboard.
- Keep your system updated using Windows updates to keep software vulnerabilities to a minimum.
Other than these, we need to dedicated software to monitor and detect keyloggers.
KeyScrambler is a wonderful free anti-keylogging software that can be used for protecting against web-based keyloggers. While you can have a complete Internet security suite for keeping yourself safe from most of the Internet threats, it does come with a cost. Most of the Internet security suites are not free and are prone to taking huge system resources while operating.
KeyScrambler resource usage is almost negligible. I have been using KeyScrambler for a few days and have yet to fall into any performance problems. There are two executables running in the Process Manager. Both of them take about three to four MB of memory with almost no processor usage.
Setting up KeyScrambler for protection
KeyScrambler can be downloaded from here. The installation procedure is quite simple and follows the standard app installation procedure on Windows.
I like the way KeyScrambler handles the screen space. While the keyboard is being used on a web browser, it will show an overlay window on the top center of the screen, and when you finish writing, the window disappears saving space and time. The overlay window displays the encrypted version of the text being typed by the keyboard. If a keylogger is active, it will get the encrypted form of keyboard key presses.
If the overlay window is being shown, it is the confirmation that KeyScrambler is working and encrypting the keyboard presses.
Right-clicking on the system tray icon will allow you to enable or disable the KeyScrambler functionality. You can also use the default hotkey for this purpose which is Ctrl + Shift + K. The hotkey can be customized in Options under the General tab.
You can also change the overlay window in Options under the Display tab.
In the advanced Tab of Options, you can select whether to encrypt the Space key or not and supporting East Asian language input.
KeyScrambler encrypts the keystrokes on a driver level, it becomes almost impossible for keyloggers to bypass KeyScrambler. The overlay window will show you the encrypted text while you are typing. The keyloggers will get the encrypted text which will be unreadable for anyone.
I have been using KeyScrambler for some days and have been completely satisfied with it. It is unobtrusive and works seamlessly with all browsers. The only issue I had was using KeyScrambler along with KeePass, a password manager. If you are using auto typing feature of KeePass, the text typed into the text boxes will be encrypted by KeyScrambler, so you will need to manually copy the text fields from KeePass and paste them into the browser.
Other anti-keylogger software to keep yourself safe
Although I prefer to have KeyScrambler along with basic antivirus and firewall for protecting myself from Internet threats, there are other software which can do the same anti-logging job. Here are some of the anti-keylogger software which you can review and install if they best fit your needs:
Keylogger Beater – If you are using Firefox as your primary browser, you can install Keylogger Beater extension in Firefox in order to protect the form data from being logged.
NextGen Anti-keylogger is another software similar to KeyScrambler which can perform similar anti-keylogging operations with an exception that it does not seem to support Google Chrome. It is available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
How do you protect your computer from key-logging software? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.