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Signs of a keylogger infection on computer and smartphone

It is crucial to know about keyloggers as they play a significant role in the world of cybersecurity. Often, computers and smartphones show several signs when they get infected with a keylogger. This post lists a few such noticeable signs and symptoms (indicators of infection) of keylogger infections on computers and smartphones. And also we are going to tell all about the ‘key loggers’. What is a keylogger, how does it work, how it gets infected, and different types of key loggers, and many more.

What Is Keylogger?

A keylogger is either a software program or hardware device which is designed to capture, store and share the user’s keystrokes with others for any reason. Keyloggers can be used for a variety of reasons. Hackers use keyloggers to steal the victims personal or confidential information like bank details, username and passwords. On the other hand, keyloggers can be used by admins for monitoring and troubleshooting activities. Let’s see how it works in the next section.

How Does Keylogger Work?

Keyloggers work like a surveillance camera. It captures each key that you enter like a person sitting behind you and watching all your activities and store those keystrokes locally or send them to the remote place. In addition to the keystrokes, New loggers are loading with more and more capabilities. Some new loggers can capture screenshots, web camera pictures, audio from the microphone. Send all the captured data to remotely sitting operator over the internet or just stores in its local storage database.

How Keyloggers Send The Data?

It’s up to how the keyloggers are designed to send the data. It’s purely subjective. We can list some of the standard methods keyloggers have been using to share the data.

  1. Most loggers upload the data to a website, FTP server, database or a remote storage place.
  2. Sending data through emails are also quite often.
  3. Hardware variant of keyloggers mostly stores the data instead of sharing them.

Whenever someone hears the word ‘key logger’ it sounds more like malware. And, that is true in most cases. As we said in the earlier section, key loggers are mostly used for malicious intent, but there is someplace where it is being used for a useful purpose.

Use of keyloggers in supervision activities:

One such useful purpose: monitor children’s activities. Keyloggers can be used as Parenting applications designed to monitor children’s activities on the internet to save them from being distracted.

Let’s give you another instance; Large-sized corporations use keyloggers in information technology departments in troubleshooting technical problems on their systems and networks. Or, keep an eye on employees surreptitiously.

Additionally, keyloggers are the most obvious thing in the ethical hacking area too.

In all such cases, where you buy and use the key logger on your devices are perfectly legal. There are plenty of products that are sold on the internet these days.

Use of loggers to spy:

But, when the significant concerns begin when the bad guys start using the keyloggers on criminal intent. Criminals try to install a keylogger on others’ machines without the owner’s knowledge and try spying on them to grab their personal and confidential information to sell on the dark web for profit. In the next section, we see how hackers infect keyloggers to your computer and smartphone.

How Can Computers And Smartphones Get Infected By a Keylogger?

Hackers use multiple ways to infect keyloggers depending on the keylogger’s feature set. Hardware modules are easy to host if the hacker doesn’t have a physical barrier. Most of them are plug and play. But, you should have the physical access to the targeted machine. On the other hand, the software version of keylogger has multiple routes to enter. Here is the list:

  1. Infected links: Keylogging malware can be delivered to the victim using compromised websites.
  2. Phishing scams: It’s often to use social engineering technique such as phishing to deliver the keylogging malware.
  3. Unauthorized Sources: Public resources, like app stores, application download centres and code repositories like GitHub, are also good sources to distribute keyloggers.
  4. Supply chain attack: Attackers could hide keyloggers inside the operating system, and software updates received over the internet. 
  5. Untrusted third-party: Computers and smartphones get keylogger infection by downloading applications from untrusted third-party sites, attachments from untrusted emails.

After looking at some common ways, keylogger gets infected. Let’s go ahead and see the common signs of keylogger infection.

What Are The Common Signs Of Keylogger Infection?

Both computers and smartphones indicate several signs and symptoms when they get infected with a keylogger. Let’s list some of the characters which would help in detecting the keylogger after get infected:

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Keylogger Infection In Computers:

  1. Suspicious Hardware: There are two types of hardware modules are there. External and Internal or Embedded. External Hardware modules are easy to spot. Because they are connected to the external ports and visible to eyes, you need to recognize them. On the other hand, it’s tricky to detect the embedded keyloggers. The most common sign to catch them are system behaviour:
  2. Unknown process: Software Keyloggers are also an application like others. It runs in the operating system as like other processes. Check the all active process running on the computer and validate them.
  3. Keyboard and mouse malfunction: You may experience your mouse and keyboards behave out of your control.  As like your mouse pointer disappear at one place and went to a different point without your actions. Similarly, your keyboard courser move intermittently without your action.
  4. System performance issues: You may feel that your computer become less responsive or slow in running programs and loading web sites. Some key loggers would kill your system performance by eating up more resources.
  5. Program Errors: Throw unexpected errors, program interruptions, sometime you may see your system reboot by its own.
  6. Alerts from antivirus applications: Antimalware applications on the devices trigger alerts when they found keyloggers on the devices.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Keylogger Infection In Smartphones:

  1. Delayed Typing: Smartphone keyboards become less responsive.
  2. High resource utilization: Smartphones starts utilizing high RAM than usual.
  3. Camera and microphone malfunction: Smartphone’s launch its camera by itself, takes pictures, and microphone covertly starts recording.
  4. Enormous heat generation: Stars heating more than a usual and dramatic drop in battery charge.
  5. Program Errors: Applications disappear by its own, stop responding, close by its own. Reboot by its own.

After seeing the common signs of keylogger infection on computer and smartphone, see best practice to remove the keyloggers from computers and smartphones.

How To Detect And Remove A Keylogger Infection?

After noticing the signs and symptoms of keylogger infection, it is essential to detect to remove from the devices. There are two main ways to confirm the presence of keyloggers.

  1. Anti-virus & anti-keylogger application: These applications are designed to detect malware like viruses, worms, Trojans, ATPs, ransomware, exploit kits, rootkits, and spyware on the computer and smartphone which detect the presence of a keylogger program on the computer and smartphone. Visit the page to know the best antivirus for your device.
  2. Manual analysis: Check the active running process on the computer, trace the active network connection using programs like netstat, Verify the installed programs on both computer and smartphone, and monitor the resource utilization.

If you are confirmed with keylogger infections, then it is time to react and remove the keylogger on your device. Here are the six such reactive approaches listed to minimize the impact of keyloggers on computers and smartphones.

  1. Monitor process utilization: Use some monitoring tools on the smartphone to monitor the resources. And, there are plenty of ways there to do this on computers.
  2. Keep antivirus protection up to date: Use a good antivirus program and always keep the definitions up to date.
  3. Manage Hardware access: Don’t merely give access to all the applications on the smartphone and disable admin account on the computer and enable all the security features on both devices.
  4. Use anti-keylogger application if possible.
  5. Remove PUP programs: Try identifying and uninstall the Potentially Unwanted Programs from the computer and smartphone.

Before knowing the reactive approach, it’s better to follow a proactive approach to remain away from reinfections. Read the below section to know more about the proactive approach.

How To Prevent Keylogger Infection?

Always pay attention to the signs and symptoms of keylogger infections. There is no guaranty of reinfections. As a proactive action, here are the most common measures to counter the keyloggers before getting infected again:

  1. Awareness is the key.  You should gain some knowledge about the key loggers, how they look?  What are they up to?
  2. Use a good antivirus programs and run scans from time to time.
  3. Don’t download anything from untrusted websites; don’t open untrusted emails and attachments.
  4. Keep your system and application up to date.

After all, there is another aspect of the keylogger to tell. This post doesn’t conclude without touching the topic—types of keyloggers.

What Are The Different Types Of Keyloggers?

Key loggers come in many forms, both hardware and software variants. Both have their pros and cons on each other. Let’s take one after another each of them. Before that, We want you to know all the possible types of loggers used these days.

Five common types of keyloggers:

  1. Hardware Keylogger module: Hardware keyloggers looks more or less like a typical small size USB pen drives. These devices sit right between your computer and keyboard to intercept the key signals that you enter on the keyboard. It’s easy to detect if you pay a little attention at all your external USB ports.
  2. Keygrabber module: Keygrabber is identical in function with a hardware module. What it makes differ is its appearance and the place of hosting. It looks like a small electronic board with an integrated chip and some I/O pins instead of a USB pen drive. It goes inside the keyboard and covers itself inside the body. It’s not that easy to catch as the attacker would hide it inside the body of your computer or keyboard.
  3. Wireless key sniffers: A Wireless key sniffer is more advance module than the earlier modules. It is capable of intercepting the wireless signals of the wireless keyboard to capture your entered keystrokes. It’s not as difficult as to find this compared to the second module, but not easy too.
  4. Key sound pickers: We can say this a variant of key sniffers. The difference is that it uses the keyboard’s typing sound instead of capturing the wireless signals. Most of the time it found less accurate, but we can’t ignore this logger either.
  5. Software variant of Keylogger: This is the most prevalent type of logger because of its broad set of benefits over other kinds of hardware modules. It’s easy to develop, infect, and manage remotely. It’s cheap, and this list of features goes longer than other modules.

Hardware vs Software Key Loggers.

At last, see some differences between hardware and software key loggers. Hardware key loggers have their pros and cones over software key loggers. Let me walk you through those after another in precise.


Hardware Modules:

Pros:

  1. It doesn’t require more technical knowledge. Just plug and start using it.
  2. Easy to install.
  3. Efficient and accurate.
  4. Easy to evade antivirus.

Cons:

  1. Physical access is required.
  2. Easy to spot.
  3. Expensive.

Software Modules:

Pros:

  1. Remotely manageable.
  2. It’s cheap.
  3. Anyone can create custom loggers.
  4. It’s more flexible and futuristic.

Cons:

  1. Demands technical knowledge.
  2. Isn’t easy to infect.
  3. Easy to detect by antivirus programs.

How To Install And Setup A Kidlogger?

Thanks to Tutorials Point for creating such informative video about kidlogger tutorial which clearly shows how to install and setup kidlogger on a computer.

Q&A Section:

We tried to answer ten most asked question about the keylogger to cover the most.

Which statement regarding a keylogger is not true?

Most people think that software keyloggers are easy to detect. But, this stays false in many cases. As keylogger programs Most people think that software keyloggers are easy to detect. But, this stays false in many cases. As keylogger programs bound with device drivers or advance persist, threats are undetectable in most cases. And, the second falls statement is that not all keyloggers are considered as malware programs. Some Keyloggers are used for useful purposes like in parental control and troubleshooting activities.

How to send a keylogger to someone’s phone?

There is no specific answer to this question. This is not legal to do. Keyloggers can be delivered to other smartphones using Social engineering attacks like phishing.

How to remotely install a keylogger on another computer?

There are many keyloggers comes with covert remote install function. Suppose you have access to the target device. In that case, You can use these network protocols SSH, FTP, SCP, and NC protocols to deliver the keylogger and install on the device. You can also do this by exploiting the target, but that is illegal to do.
An excellent post is published on the null byte website, which shows a step-by-step procedure to install the keylogger on the victim’s computer using Metasploit. Please go ahead and read this post.
URL: https://null-byte.wonderhowto.com/how-to/hack-like-pro-remotely-install-keylogger-onto-your-girlfriends-computer-0141971/

How to detect keylogger in android?

Install a good antivirus program and scan the device. Or notice the behavioural changes like slow keyboard response, high RAM utilization, quick battery drain, and more heat generation in the smartphone.

How to make a remote keylogger?

You can create keyloggers using any high-level programming languages like C, C++ C#, JAVA, and Python. Python keyloggers, c++ keyloggers, and Java keyloggers are the most prevalent keyloggers then others.

Is there a free remote keylogger software?

Answer: Yes, there are plenty of free keylogger applications available. 10 Most common keyloggers among them are:
ChromeLogger
Kickidler
Best free keylogger
Windows keylogger
Spyrix keylogger
Kidlogger
Revealer keylogger
Refog free keylogger
Iwantsoft keylogger
Fea keylogger

What is the best keylogger software?

Answer: There is nothing something called best, choose the keylogger which best suits your requirement. Our advice is to avoid free keyloggers.

Can a keylogger be installed on an iPhone?

Answer: Yes, there are few keyloggers available on AppStore to install. Many options are also there for parental control:
mSpy
iKeyMonitor
Pumpic iPhone keylogger
Spyzie
SpyEra
XNSPY
FlexiSpy
Highster Mobile
MobileSpy
MaxxSpy

Can a keylogger be detected?

Answer: Answer is both yes and no. Ideally, all keylogger should be detected. But, some custom created keyloggers bound with driver applications and APT programs are hard to detect.

Is keylogger malware?

Answer: Both yes and no. There are some keyloggers used for parental control and troubleshooting purpose. Those are legal to use. Other keyloggers created with malicious intent are considered as a malware.

A Detailed Case-Study Of Keylogger Infections

A detailed case study is published on “The active underground economy that trades stolen digital credentials and covers investigation on keylogger-based stealing of credentials via dropzones, anonymous collection points of illicitly collected data” by various universities. 

Conclusion:

We created this post to serve you with a piece of comprehensive information about the keylogger. In this post, we have covered starting from ‘what is keyloggers’ to ‘it’s working with usage, detection, removal, and prevention strategies’. We also covered ‘what are the signs and symptoms (indicators of infection) of keylogger infections’ in a simplistic form. We hope this helps you in understanding most of the things related to keyloggers.

Thank you for reading this post. Please visit the below links to read more such interesting articles. And also peace leave your comments here below and let us know your feedback. This helps us to bring more such interesting articles.

About the author

Arun KL

To know more about me. Follow me on LinkedIn Hi All, I am Arun KL, an IT Security Professional. Founder of “thesecmaster.com”. Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Writer, Editor, Author at TheSecMaster. To know more about me. Follow me on LinkedIn

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