Cyberspace in the modern world is plagued with all sorts of malware that threaten the sanctity of your device. It is no secret that the internet has never been a safe space to exist in. With the advent of the computer virus as far back as the 80s, every online system has faced more than a few malicious threats in its lifetime.
These threats are mainly of two types. Of one kind are those that seek to directly extort the user into parting with their hard-earned cash, usually through untraceable cryptocurrency. However, the far more insidious methods are the ones trying to access a far more valuable commodity.
Your data is not just your usernames and passwords, but so much more; your spending habits, your activity on social media, your texting patterns. In the 21st century, a person is nothing more than a blip of usable data, and that is precisely what keyloggers seek to hijack for their gain.
Keylogging (or Keystroke logging) is, by no means, a new phenomenon. The earliest documented keylogger was discovered in the 1970s when the Soviet Union was exposed to implement a program that gleaned information from IBM typewriters’ models. However, what is unsettling is how rapidly such programs have mutated and increased across the world with the advent of the internet. It is not an exaggeration to say that they are among the most significant problems in cybersecurity today.
You see, other types of malware are direct in their attacks on your device, and their presence will be tipped off to you so that you can minimize damages. On the other hand, keylogging is designed to be spyware – you can sometimes go years before noticing that one bit of odd coding is in your program files. It is a terrifying situation indeed because every activity you undertake – be it shopping online or writing emails – is being documented and sent elsewhere, so you must know everything about these programs and stay vigilant.
There are two main classes of keylogging, exploiting both the software and hardware of your system.
Among software keylogging are these oft-used methods:
Kernel-based programs are the usual culprits in incidents that tend to go unnoticed. That isn’t very surprising: they like to burrow within your device’s OS and become a part of its coding. This effectively makes them a blade of hay within the haystack. No wonder then that this method is one of the hardest to get rid of.
Another method that has come to attention recently is based on form-grabbing. This is innovative due to its very simplicity; all the attacker has to do is to monitor your submissions on either forms or websites. The keylogger records what you’ve submitted in that instant of time before the data is sent across the internet. Bidding goodbye to your precious banking details has never been easier!
There is also one other type of program similar to the Kernel-based one but is much more specific. API-based keyloggers work by disguising themselves within a particular program instead of your entire OS. While it narrows down their range of attacks, it also makes it much harder to fish them out.
On the other side of the spectrum lies hardware keylogging. As these methods are much more visible, they are only used in one-off scenarios or over a short period. Yet they are still employed to a massive extent because they are instrumental and have a low failure rate.
One method has been in use since the dawn of modern computing, and it is firmware-based keylogging. It essentially involves exploiting BIOS, the basic program that your system uses to start itself up. Firmware can be installed onto your computer, say by your employer, to ensure every keystroke of your after booting your device is recorded and monitored.
Portable Hardware Keyloggers
A far less expensive and time-intensive method is to use portable hardware keyloggers. When boiled down, they are nothing more than glorified flash drives with readymade keylogging programs installed on them.
However, they are advantageous in one respect over other software: they are not dependent on being installed on to the computer itself and can be run while still in the USB stick. Another discreet approach is to attach them to the connection between the keyboard and the CPU in a desktop. It is still just as effective and just as scary.
Keyboard overlays are unique in the sense that they wouldn’t work when used for personal computers per se. They are utilized in a far more threatening manner: in ATMs, for recording Personal Identification Numbers. As with every other program, the overlay is designed to look like a part of the machine itself.
Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Wrong! Based on the time gaps between the numbers being entered, it is an insane task to determine a person’s credentials. A keyboard overlay is perhaps the best way to realize the extent to which these nebulous methods can be used, and how much a person stands to lose when targeted by them.
Now that we have been through a frankly terrifying ride, I must tell you that all hope has not been lost yet. You can find some of the best free keyloggers to use, here. Again, as with other such malware, the best way to prevent attacks is to stay vigilant. Find any program on the internet that invokes even the slightest bit of suspicion? You know what to do. Kindly stay away because the repercussions of what will happen otherwise are far too serious about being ignored.
- Could A Keylogger Be Spying On You? Everything You Need To Know - September 14, 2020