Keyloggers, or keystroke loggers, capture keystroke information as a user types it in. They are often used in cyberattacks to steal sensitive information and credentials. When used maliciously, keyloggers are considered a type of spyware. However, keyloggers can also be used for legitimate purposes, such as troubleshooting issues on a device or monitoring children's computer use.
Keyloggers can track every keystroke entered. The data is usually then saved in a file, which hackers can access. Many keyloggers incorporate keystroke pattern recognition so attackers can quickly identify sensitive information. For example, if a hacker wants to steal password information, they can program the keylogger to monitor for an "at sign" (@). The keylogger software then alerts them when it is likely that someone is entering an email username and password credentials.
How Attackers Use Keyloggers
Keyloggers can be either software or hardware, however the software type is more commonly used by attackers as they don't require physical access to install. Unlike some other forms of malware, keyloggers do not attempt to damage systems. Instead their goal is to remain undetected in a system and quietly collect information to that attackers can exploit for ATO fraud and other types of attacks. The risks of keylogger attacks include:
- Cybercrminals can steal payment card information
- Hackers can log in to your email accounts to steal information or perpetrate scams
- Malicious users can log in to your bank accounts and transfer money out.
- Hackers can access to corporate networks and steal confidential information
Cybercriminals also often use a keylogger to gain personal and business information in order to succeed in sophisticated social engineering attacks.
"I accidentally clicked on a link in a phishing email, which then downloaded keylogger software onto my computer."