How to protect yourself from interception of keystrokes, in order to avoid theft of passwords and other confidential information.
Today we are releasing the second part of the article about keyloggers, in which we will talk about how to detect them and protect yourself. If you have not read the first part, then we highly recommend doing so. It tells in detail about what keyloggers are, what they are and how they are used.
A keylogger can help hackers get your credentials, bank account information, credit card numbers, and personal information that you may not want to share.
If something like this happens, the cybercriminal can:
- Withdraw all funds from your bank account.
- Exhaust your credit card limit, ruin your credit score.
- Impersonate you online.
- Use your personal information to blackmail you.
How to detect a keylogger?
With hardware keyloggers, the solution is obvious – you need to check the ports of the device to make sure there are no "extra" components between the keyboard cable and the USB port.
However, with software keyloggers, things are a bit more complicated. But the good news is that you can detect them with the following programs:
Task Manager (Windows) & Activity Monitor (Mac) :
Task Manager or Activity Monitor is a great way to check background processes. To launch Task Manager in Windows, click
Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
On a Mac, you’ll find System Monitor by selecting Applications > Utilities. Or use Spotlight to find it.
Now you need to find the processes you don’t know. This is easier on Windows 10 than on a Mac, as the Task Manager clearly separates apps from background processes.
When you find an app or process that you’ve never seen before or that sounds questionable, google its name. And if you got results about keyloggers, then congratulations – you’ve found the culprit.
Also, in Windows 10, be sure to check the Startup tab. If the keylogger was programmed to activate at the start of your operating system, then you must find it and turn it off.
This is not ideal and can be tedious. But he’s worth it.
Internet traffic reports
Since the data that keyloggers collect can be viewed remotely by hackers, this means that the malware communicates with them over the Internet.
Thus, it should appear in the Internet traffic usage report for your operating system. Basically, if you see some weird app that goes online, google it to find out if it’s a keylogger or not.
On a Mac, you can check this with Activity Monitor. Just select the Network tab. In Windows 10, you need to open Windows Settings (Win + I button). There, select Network and Internet.
Next select Data Usage
Under your web connections, click View usage per app. Feel free to switch between networks if you like using Show settings for.
You should now see all applications sending data over the Internet.
Hackers can sometimes hide keyloggers in browser extensions. Therefore, it is worth looking at among them. If you see an extension that you don’t remember installing, it’s best to turn it off or uninstall it. Here is a list of how you can test your extensions on the most popular browsers.
Chrome – just type
chrome://extensionsin the address bar and hit enter.
Opera – Just like Chrome: Type
opera://extensions and press Enter.
Firefox – type
about:addonsin the address bar.
Microsoft Edge – Click "Extensions" in the browser menu.
Internet Explorer – From the Tools menu, select Manage Add-ons.
Brave – Enter
brave://extensionsin the address field.
Vivaldi – enter
vivaldi://extensionsin the URL field.
Safari – Click "Preferences" from the Safari menu and select "Extensions".
Yandex – click Yandex Browser Settings (three-line icon) and select Add-ons.
Can the on-screen keyboard protect against keyloggers?
Maybe, but not 100%.
The thing is, the on-screen keyboard uses the same driver as the regular keyboard. So a keylogger can use it to intercept translated keystrokes sent to your operating system.
Even if it doesn’t, don’t forget that keyloggers are malicious software. And skilled hackers can program malware to do just about anything. For example, they can set up a keylogger to take screenshots. Alternatively, they can have it capture an image of the area around the mouse pointer (that is, which letter you press on the on-screen keyboard).
How to protect yourself then keyloggers?
Below is a list of things you can try:
Use an antivirus
Keyloggers are malware, at least when hackers use them against you. Obviously, the best line of defense is antivirus software.
Just make sure you run regular scans (ideally every day) and keep your antivirus software up to date. If you skip the update, it may not be able to detect new types of malware (including keyloggers).
Enable Two-Factor Authentication and Multi-Factor Authentication on your accounts.
These are security settings that add an extra step to the login process. It usually works like this: When you log in, enter your username/email address and password as usual. You will then need to enter a randomly generated code to complete the login process. The code is usually generated on your phone using an app (such as Google Authenticator).
Thus, even if cyber criminals manage to steal your credentials using keyloggers, they will not be able to hack into your accounts. To do this, they will need direct access to your mobile device.
Use a password manager
A password manager is an online tool that secures your passwords in one place. In essence, it encrypts them, acting as a digital vault. You only need one master password to access and use them.
Password managers should offer some protection against keyloggers through autocomplete features. Typically, you save the sites you sign in to a password vault and then use a browser extension to automatically fill in the login fields when you access them. You don’t need to print.
Wait, wouldn’t keyloggers compromise your master password, giving hackers direct access to all your passwords? This can happen, which is why you should always enable two-factor authentication on your account (as we said before).
Password managers usually offer decent protection against hardware keyloggers. They are good against some software keyloggers, but not all.
Don’t forget – some of them can be programmed to take screenshots so they can capture your master password (along with other data).
In general, a password manager is designed to provide a certain level of protection, not complete protection. Just because it can protect your data from some keyloggers doesn’t mean you can ignore potential malware infection on your device.
Use script blockers
These tools are the perfect way to protect yourself from hackers using malicious scripts that act like keyloggers or marketers who use invasive scripts to track what you type on their sites or how you interact with their ads.
uMatrix is by far the best tool for the job. It’s free, open source, and works on most browsers.
We also recommend using uBlock Origin. It mainly blocks ads, but it can also be configured to block scripts. And if you use it in Firefox, it will block third party scripts in disguise.
Use a VPN
A VPN will not protect you from keyloggers (or any malware). But it can block connections to malicious sites, preventing hackers from infecting your device with keyloggers.
In addition, a VPN can prevent cyber criminals from attacking you with MITM attacks that redirect you to phishing sites. A VPN encrypts your traffic so a hacker can’t use traffic sniffers to track your data packets to find out what sites you visit. Without this information, they will not be able to successfully redirect you to fake sites infected with keyloggers without arousing your suspicions.
For example, if you want to access google.com and you are redirected to a PayPal-like site asking you to enter your login credentials, you will probably be on your guard. You can even double check the URL and see that it is paipaI.xy.com instead of paypal.com.
So make sure you always use a VPN when you go online – at least when logging into accounts or making online payments.
Keep your software up to date
Cyber criminals often use old apps and operating systems to inject keyloggers into devices. As a rule, if you do not update applications or the operating system, potential vulnerabilities will not be checked.
As tedious as updates (especially Windows updates) can be, just endure them. It’s better to spend ten minutes waiting for updates to complete than to let a hacker hijack your accounts because your torrent client is still using an old version.
use common sense
What we mean is don’t download files from suspicious websites, especially if they are advertised as free, although the software is actually quite expensive (eg Adobe Photoshop).
Do not open emails from unknown senders. Fraudsters could send them and insert malicious links or attachments into them that infect your device using keyloggers.
If you visit a site and are redirected to another site, leave it immediately. Don’t waste your time on this and definitely don’t click on any links or ads.
If you ever see a random pop-up saying that you have won a new iPhone (or any other device or amount of money), ignore it and leave the site as soon as possible. Either this is a fake malicious website, or a legitimate site has been hacked by hackers.
Always recheck public computers. See if there is any additional hardware between the keyboard cable and the computer’s USB port. Also, avoid any sensitive activity on public computers (such as online banking, making payments, or checking email).
Basically, don’t fall for any phishing tricks.
How to get rid of keyloggers
Unfortunately, simply running a virus scan to get rid of keyloggers is usually not enough. Instead, you will need specialized software (called anti-keyloggers).
These tools perform an in-depth audit of the processes on your device, checking almost everything:
- OS and BIOS processes
- Background apps and services
- Browser settings
- Network settings
They also cross-check all data they find against an extensive database of keylogger strains. Apart from these, you should also use anti-rootkits, since many keyloggers are actually rootkits.
We will show you some of the best tools to get rid of keyloggers.
If you’re having trouble getting rid of a keylogger with anti-keyloggers and anti-rootkits, or if you suspect your device has been jailbroken, you’ll most likely need to completely reinstall your operating system.
Malwarebytes is an extremely effective anti-malware tool. Therefore, it is obvious that their anti-rootkit service is also good. While their anti-rootkit tool is in beta, it does the job really well. It performs a thorough scan for keyloggers and other types of rootkits in the kernel of your operating system.
And most importantly, it’s completely free.
SpyShelter is a very effective tool that runs in the background and automatically blocks keyloggers if they try to infect your device.
Their keylogger database is quite extensive. So much so that their Anti KeyLogging module can easily protect you from any of the keyloggers (even unidentified ones).
Although SpyShelter is not free, it does have a free 14-day trial. This should be enough to understand if this tool is right for you. If so, you can buy the premium version for around $32 to $33 per device.
And here’s the good news – it’s a one-time payment, not a recurring monthly or yearly subscription.
Zemana offers anti-malware solutions, but they also have a dedicated keylogger protection service .
She’s good enough. The Zemana tool also offers ransomware protection and adware removal, which is a pretty nice bonus. Their service runs in the background and constantly scans everything you download for malicious behavior.
The service has a free demo, and its premium version now costs $41.99 per year for a single device. Also, it is only available for Windows.
Ghostpress is a tool with a nice user interface that offers protection against keyloggers by hiding and manipulating keystrokes. For example, it may intentionally slow down your input speed to mask your writing behavior.
Unlike Zemana and SpyShelter, Ghostpress is not completely free.