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Cyber Safety Glossary

Keylogger

Also Known As:
Keylogging.

Description:
A keylogger can be either specialized hardware fitted to a keyboard or keyboard cable or a software program. Keyloggers are used to record - log - each keystroke on a personal computer. A keylogger has many legitimate applications, such as helping companies understand how consumers interact with new software or as an aid to parents monitoring a child’s computer use - they can retrace the child’s internet path by analyzing the keystrokes.

Law enforcement organizations and spy agencies collect evidence and intelligence with this tool. Hackers illegally use software keyloggers to identify their victims’ computer passwords, login names, bank account and credit card numbers, and other vital personal identity information. They can track people’s movements on the Internet and read their correspondence. Keylogging is one of the most serious threats to computer users in terms of theft, fraud, and privacy. Malicious keylogging software infects personal computers through Spyware, viruses, Trojan Horses, and worms - malware.

What Should I Do:
Software keyloggers are hidden from view and users may not know their personal computers have been infected. Install anti-virus and anti-Spyware software, as well as a firewall. Be wary of opening email attachments, stick to mainstream Web sites, and be exceptionally careful about what you download from the Internet.

If you are concerned that your personal computer may be infected with keylogging malware, have it checked by a computer services organization. After the PC has been swept clean, practice safe Internet procedures, as described above, and make sure your anti-virus and anti-Spyware software are automatically updated as new threats emerge.