Out of the many forms of hacking software out there today; few are as simple yet dangerous as the keylogger program. Keylogging software has been around for years and is a quick way to collect vast amounts of information in a short period of time.
Basically a keylogger is a small program often installed on a computer without the knowledge of the user of that computer. Usually it makes it’s way onto a computer through a virus, spyware, e-mail attachments, or hacked links and websites. Most keyloggers are created and used to steal sensitive information ranging from usernames and passwords to credit card information and bank account information. Instead of just focusing on short series of information entered (such as passwords and account information), keyloggers as their name suggests can log every single key pressed on the infected computer. This means that a keylogger can collect and transmit thousands of words worth of data to the person running the keylogger with the user noticing nothing.
Keyloggers may collect the data for only certain things; such as only text entered on certain sites or at certain prompts (such as computer login screens) or they may be set up to simply collect everything typed to be reviewed later by the hacker. This in itself makes keyloggers powerful information collectors; imagine how much you type in one day; how many sites you log into, and how many usernames and passwords you may use in a day for various accounts. Making keyloggers even more dangerous; some are written to transmit the collected keystrokes in real time; sending up to the second updates to the hacker of information being entered by the user.
Those who fall victim to keylogging software may only have their personal instant messages and e-mails transmitted. They may only be giving away the sites they visit and the programs they run. But for many people who use online banking, sites that require log-in information, and so forth; the effects of keylogging software can be devastating. From accounts on sites such as MySpace and Facebook being hijacked to credit card and bank account numbers being stolen, a keylogging program can basically be a catalyst for full scale identity effect. The stolen information could go unnoticed for days, even weeks or months before a problem is noticed. Even if credit card statements or log in information for one’s sites seem compromised; a keylogger still may go undetected with the theft being chalked up to another program or bad luck.
The good news is that the effects of keyloggers can be completely eliminated by simply keeping your anti-virus software up to date and running regularly. Also as with most computer viruses and hacking programs; don’t open e-mails you don’t recognize, confirm a friend actually meant to send you that file attachment or link, and make sure the sites you visit regularly are the actual sites and not fakes. Minimizing your exposure to possible ways of downloading keyloggers coupled with regular anti-virus scans can protect you and your personal information against these simple yet dangerous computer viruses.