Meet the ultimate in relationship- and bank account-wrecking malware: the keylogger. Scary stuff. So, to take the edge off, I’ve enlisted the help of some exceedingly cute pandas.
Hey, what’s up.
Look, I’ve got computer secrets. Things that could really mess things up for me if they ever came out: all those eBay bids for My Little Pony memorabilia, all that super easy math I should have been able to do in my head. That sort of thing.
Percentages are hard, ok!?
Naturally, I take the threat of someone being able to read everything I type on my computer very seriously.
But there’s a kind of malware that does just that. A keylogger, once installed, takes a detailed record of everything you write — your chats, emails, login details including passwords, credit card details including that security number at the back they always ask you for…. And then it presents it to whoever put the keylogger in your computer: your boyfriend, your wife, your boss, or your friendly neighborhood cyber criminal.
But — my privacy!
How keyloggers find their way into your life
Let me count the ways — FOUR. In four ways. (That math I can do.)
- You’re using a public or borrowed computer, and someone has put a bit of software in it that records your every keystroke. You log into your Facebook on a public PC just once and there you go — your username and password are recorded, saved and ready to be retrieved by someone with awful intentions. (The odds are pretty high that your Facebook username is also your primary email address… and you use the same password for both, don’t you? Yeah. It gets worse.)
Could you be any more reckless?
- You accidentally download a keylogger into your computer. Keyloggers are malware, and malware is as malware does. Opening a dodgy link, sketchy email attachment or even running an infected online ad on an unsecured computer can be all it takes for criminals to get a hold of your banking details, passwords and every word you write to your mom.
- Someone installs a keylogger in your computer without you knowing. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here it goes: your spouse or your parents or your housemate or your boss who wants to read your personal blog but you won’t give him the URL has planted a keylogger in your computer while you weren’t looking, and now you have to explain who Lisa is, or you’re having tea with HR.
- Someone plugs a keylogging device into your computer. Like, an actual chunk of metal and plastic you can touch — or you could, if only you knew it was there. These hardware devices go between your keyboard and your computer’s USB port, and they’re particularly effective in cases of corporate espionage because it’s way easier to pull this off with office computers, what with all the hidden cables and such.
They even come in neat boxes and everything
How to detect, remove and just plain destroy keyloggers
Alright, now for the advice bit. Which I have no doubt you will follow, since keyloggers are horrifically scary things when you think about the amount of personal and compromising info you type into your computer on a daily basis.
- Never, ever, EVER enter any personal info or log into anything on a public computer. Wait until you get home to check your social media — and most definitely your bank statement. Assume that everything you type on a public PC is being recorded, and act accordingly.
- Get an up-to-date antivirus you can trust. As I said, keyloggers are a form of malware, and your first line of defence against malware is your antivirus. We happen to know a really, really good one. If your PC is infected with a keylogger, we’ll detect and destroy it. If you drop your guard and click on something sketchy, we’ll catch it.
Think of us as your lady in blue.
- Check the connection between your keyboard and your PC every now and then. Just to see if there’s something there. Every now and then. Just in case. No big deal.
- Maybe reconsider your relationship choices if you’re being spied on at home. Never mind. You do you.
Now that you know all you need to know about keyloggers, go play safely!
And don’t let malware cramp your style.