Protecting your business (and yourself) from keystroke loggers

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Protecting your business (and yourself) from keystroke loggers

What is a keylogger? 

Keylogging is a strategy adopted by cyber criminals to spy on the intended target. When a device becomes infected by a malicious keylogger, every keystroke made on the device is recorded.   

How do keyloggers work? 

The method is similar to how trojans operate, in that the target’s actions are monitored by a threat actor to record important information such as passwords, bank details, employment related documents, health records and further sensitive data. The recorded data is then sent to a remote device or web server. The person operating the key logging program can then retrieve the data who can make large sums of profit from it by sending the data to third party criminal networks.  

In addition to this, the threat actor can gain access to the target’s microphone and camera and further spy on their target. Screenshots of important data can also be carried out if the target’s software becomes compromised with a keylogger in spyware form.  

The two main methods of keylogging are: 

  • Hardware keylogging – When a hardware device is inserted into the intended device. This could be a suspicious plugin that has been secretly inserted between the CPU box and the keyboard to hijack the signals as the target types.  
  • Software keylogging – The easier method to install onto the victim’s device. Software keyloggers are not a threat to the target system. The aim of the cyber criminal is to operate undetected and record the keystrokes of their target. This method is more common.  

Detecting a keylogger 

Keyloggers infect the intended device in the same manner as other malwares do. They are installed once the target clicks on an embedded attachment for example, a carefully constructed phishing email designed to lure a target. Attachments can also be sent by SMS, other forms of instant messages or social networks. Your device can also become infected if you browse on a legitimate but infected website which will exploit an unknown vulnerability and drop a drive-by malware download.  

It is important to note that keyloggers are usually delivered with other forms of malware to your system such as adware, spyware, ransomware, or a computer virus.  

Check your downloads file on your device as the keylogger file may be visible. The file may be composed of random letters and end with APK.    

Signs of a keylogger intrusion  

Signs that your computer is infected with a keylogger malware:  

  • Hardware keylogging – check for any inserted objects. Check your keyboard and see if you notice anything unusual or different. Also, follow the cable of the keyboard to the port where it connects to the CPU.  
  • Some devices or programs may simply report to you that the system is being monitored for example, a company device. 
  • Malware keyloggers which are often programmed with poorer quality may inadvertently reveal themselves.  
  • This can include slower cursor movements or keystrokes; slower web performance or incomplete typed keystrokes being presented.  
  • Error messages may appear whilst a program, graphics or a web page is being loaded.  
  • Network activity when you are not attempting to access it. Remember, keyloggers send data to third party criminals using the internet. 
  • If you notice unusual activity/processes in your task manager, this can also be a sign of a keylogger infection. 
  • If you notice changes in your online account credentials such as change of password, settings or even transactions, this may be a sign of a keylogger infection (but this could stem from other malwares also). 

Signs that your mobile phone has been infected: 

  • If your phone is unusually hot despite all apps and programs being closed, there is a chance that you are being spied on. 
  • Rapid battery draining even if you have barely used your device.  
  • Strange and unsolicited text messages which you must not click and delete immediately.  
  • If your phone turns on and off unprompted, your device has likely been infected with a malicious keystroke logger.  
  • If unusual background noises can be heard during a phone call, it is likely that your conversation has been spied on.  

How to remove a keylogger malware 

The best method to remove the malware is to use an updated antivirus software. This will detect and isolate the malware and then remove it from your computer. Many commercial antivirus companies offer protection including Macaffee Internet Security Suit and Norton Internet Security and Eset Internet Security.  

If you are still worried about an infection after using an antivirus software, prior to ensuring that all important data is backed up, reset your device.   

Avoiding keyloggers 

Devices should be updated as soon as the newest version of the software is available to patch vulnerabilities. Any software should only be downloaded/ purchased from the reputable developer and never from an external website.  

Companies should provide their employees with basic cyber security awareness training courses.  

Staff should understand: 

  • The risks that stem from logging into public computers with private credentials such as their email, online banking, or other secure online services. 
  • Passwords should be changed at home or at a secured computer. 
  • Emails and SMS texts from unknown sources should be regarded with scrutiny. 
  • Prevention, detection and removal methods of keystroke malwares and other malwares.  

How Securiwiser can help 

The task of being responsible for large amounts of sensitive data of your clients and employees may seem like a daunting task. At Securiwiser, we endeavour to provide our clients with effective cybersecurity consultation to assure our clients that this task can be executed with full confidence.  

Regular scans are one of the best methods for ensuring company security as threats can be detected and managed promptly.   

By joining Securiwiser, we can provide our clients with daily scans to alert businesses and independent users of the exact underlying compromises and provide advise on how to handle arising issues in the most cost effective and time saving manner.

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