Keyloggers: What Are These Programs and When Are They Used?

Have you ever heard about keyloggers? These tools are usually programs or physical devices designed to register various user actions at the PC. These are keyboard keystrokes, cursor movement, and mouse clicks. All existing keylogger programs can be divided into two categories – malicious and useful. As it is impossible to ignore positive and negative purposes to use them, we will consider both categories.

Keyloggers as Useful Programs

Of course, the presence of the word keylogger does not mean that it is malicious. Sometimes, you can even use the Outlook free mode to check the functionality before buying a licensed version. The information these tools collect is not sent to third parties without permission, and users usually know that their actions are tracked by the program.

Kid Learning on Computer

 

Keyloggers are used to solve several problems. For instance:

  1. Parental control over the child’s work at the computer;
  2. Employer’s control over the actions of their employees;
  3. Saving all your actions for further usage of the collected data, for example, to restore lost passwords/logins, messages sent by mail/messenger, etc.
  4. Investigation of all kinds of incidents, associated with the loss of files, unauthorized sending of classified information, etc.

As you can see, useful keyloggers mostly needed to control user actions. The most advanced programs of this type can also perform some advanced functions: they can both send an alert to the administrator (parents) in various ways and automatically block attempts to send text and any other information, start/stop external programs, turn on/off devices connected to the computer, etc.

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Keyloggers on Corporate Computers: What Is the Benefit?

Many large corporations that produce innovative products should take care of internal security to prevent data leaks. Such leaks can cost owners millions of dollars unless they take all possible measures to ensure the safety of their corporate secrets. In this case, they notify the employees that their corporate PCs are constantly monitored. Besides, such actions can be beneficial in the following spheres:

  • Strengthening discipline. Office employees should not forget about the rules of a certain company. Inform employees that their computer work is being monitored, and you will probably soon notice that the popularity of entertainment sites has declined and productivity has increased.
  • Identifying the best employees. Which employee devotes the most time to work? Whose contribution to the company is the most significant? Whose business skills deserve rewards? A warning about control and monitoring will show what your employees are capable of when they are not distracted by social networks, messengers, etc.
  • Increasing personal responsibility. Allow your employees to use the corporate laptop as they wish. Notify them about the forbidden activities, and that a keylogger is monitoring employees. So, your employees can decide for themselves what to do at the corporate computer during the working hours.

If your company has employees who allow themselves to carelessly handle confidential information of the company or its clients, then monitoring their PC activity will quickly identify unreliable employees. This monitoring will help prevent not only data leakage: you can know in advance that a person is looking for a new job or combining work in your organization with work in another company.

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What Does a Keylogger Should Do to Provide Corporate Discipline?

  1. Remember the addresses of visited sites. Perhaps every keylogger can do this.
  2. Record the history of file operations. Downloading and opening files, sending them to external sources – all these operations will be prevented by a keylogger.
  3. Take screenshots. The fast pace of work in a modern office involves opening dozens of files and hundreds of browser tabs in a day. To quickly get acquainted with how employees manage their working time, personnel monitoring should not be limited to fixing text data.
  4. Send notifications by email. The keylogger monitors employees even when you are on vacation or on a business trip. If in your absence the information security of the company is threatened, the advanced keylogger will be able to notify you about it.

However, there are also malicious keyloggers, that intend to threaten the individual user. Everyone can become a victim of the scammers who will use the vulnerability of your gadget to steal and use your data.

Keyloggers as Malware

Keyloggers are among the most common spyware tools. Their main task includes a preliminary collection of information with its subsequent forwarding to the attacker. All this is done without the knowledge of the PC user, i.e. the actions of such programs can be harmful. Therefore, any advanced antivirus system instantly identifies them as a Worm or a Trojan.

If attackers just intercept keystrokes, they will get website addresses and passwords to accounts, bank card data, personal correspondence, and everything else that is entered into the computer from the keyboard. More advanced keyloggers can do more. For example, if you copy some text or any file to the clipboard, then it can be instantly sent to the attacker.

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Girl preparing charts on Laptop

In other words, keylogger malware is one of the most dangerous viruses for unprotected users in terms of keeping their privacy. But they can cause much more significant damage to corporate users when they infect office computers. The threat is so great that today special antiviruses are being developed, which “professionally catch” spyware and keyloggers.

How the Malicious Keyloggers Appear on Your PC?

Most keyloggers are installed on PCs in the same way as other malware. The following methods of keyloggers distribution  can be distinguished:

  • When you open a file attached to the email;
  • When launching a file from a directory that is shared in the peer-to-peer network;
  • When enabling the features of Internet browsers that allow programs to start automatically when a user enters the exact webpages;
  • With the help of a previously installed malicious program that can download and install similar analogs to the system.

Finally, you shouldn’t be scared to purchase useful keyloggers, as they can greatly simplify your life. But if you have become a victim of malware – be sure to remove it ASAP.

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