Computer hackers often use a number of different techniques to try and steal sensitive personal or financial information for their own malicious use. One such form of hacking is a keylogger program that hackers secretly install onto a computer to access any account the computer user uses on his computer.
Much like the name suggests, a keylogger is a program designed to create a log of every keystroke a user makes on an affected computer. While law enforcement or employers may use this software for legitimate purposes, malicious hackers use keyloggers to capture the usernames and passwords to all kinds of accounts: credit cards, online banking and email, among others. Because of its ease of use, the number of hackers using keyloggers increases all the time, according to VeriSign, who noted an exponential increase between 2000 and 2005.
Keyloggers work much in the same way as any other kind of malware, whether it be spyware, a Trojan or a virus. This means that you can accidentally download keyloggers through email attachments, by clicking links or by installing software that bundles itself with a keylogger. There is also a form of hardware that installs to your keyboard that tracks your keystrokes. You cannot detect this piece of hardware without taking apart the keyboard yourself.
Because they work very much like any other kind of malware, you can remove keyloggers with the same techniques used to remove spyware, a virus or a Trojan worm, which means that you can scan your computer using the same anti-virus, anti-spyware or anti-malware programs you always use. In addition, you may also be able to detect a keylogger by examining the processes in your Task Manager. Conduct research on each unfamiliar process to see whether you can link one to a potential keylogger. After removing the keylogger from your system, change the passwords for every website you visit.
Though it is easy for hackers to steal information with a keylogger, they are not perfect programs. For example, the program only logs your keystrokes, but you can log in to important accounts using your mouse and the Windows On-Screen Keyboard, which the keylogger cannot detect. Additionally, many websites -- such as Google, Facebook and PayPal -- also provide a two-step verification process that requires you to enter a security code sent to your smartphone, which keyloggers do not have access to. Some websites also allow a one-time password that expires after you use it to log in once, allowing for the ultimate protection against keyloggers.
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