4 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Keyloggers

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what is a keyloggerKeyloggers are one of the most well known and feared security threats on computers today. They’re feared because they are generally hard to detect, and because the damage they do is often meant to extend beyond the infected computer. A virus may seek to crash a computer, ruin its hard drive, or take some files, but a keylogger is usually employed to take personal information, be it a password or credit card number.

There are many ways to protect against keyloggers, however, and ensure that you don’t become a victim of identify theft or have to deal with any lesser hassle, like a hijacked World of Warcraft account. While no defense is perfect, these steps improve your chances.

Use A Firewall

what is a keylogger

In most instances, a keylogger has to transmit its information to a third party in order for it to do any harm. This means sending information out of your computer via the Internet. Although a very close examination of your network usage might reveal a keylogger, you can’t count on that as a means of monitoring for them. The bandwidth taken up by recorded keystrokes is virtually undetectable in a broadband world.

A firewall is a great defense against keyloggers because it will monitor your computer’s activity more closely than you ever could. Upon detecting that a program is attempting to send data out, the firewall will ask for permission or display a warning. Some firewall software, such as ZoneAlarm, provides you with the option of shutting down all inbound and outbound data completely.

The use of a firewall can’t guarantee protection, but it’s an important line of defense that should catch most threats.

Install A Password Manager

keylogger tips

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Keyloggers work well because they’re simple. They just take raw information – keystrokes – and ship them out of your computer to a third party. The information they send doesn’t have to take up much bandwidth, and it can be logged quickly without any apparent performance impact on the target PC. Most users infected with a keylogger will never know it unless an account or credit card is hijacked.

One weakness of keyloggers, however, is the fact that you can’t keylog what isn’t typed. That’s where automatic form filling becomes useful. If a password is filled in automatically by your PC, without any keystrokes, the password will only be susceptible to keyloggers the very first time you type it.

All the major web browsers have this feature baked in and will ask to store your password information the first time you type it. Some computers ship with software that offers this functionality throughout the entire operating system. If you don’t have this software already installed, check out our post on the best free password managers.

Keep Your Software Updated

protect from a keylogger

Being proactive about your computer’s security is always a good idea, and the most important part of a proactive defense is keeping software updated. Keyloggers, like most variants of modern malware, can exploit software vulnerabilities to inject themselves into your system without you, and in some cases your antivirus, being any the wiser. Adobe Flash, for example, has had issues with remote code execution exploits in the past. A malicious website could use such an exploit to install a keylogger on your PC.

Exploits are being found in software all of the time. Even Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are routinely patched to take care of critical exploits. If you don’t update your system you will be leaving it open to all sorts of attacks that could otherwise have been avoided. Yes, making sure all of your software is up to date can be a pain, but consider the alternative. This is an easy, proactive remedy that will stop most attacks before they can start.

Change Your Passwords Frequently

For most users, the measures above will provide enough protection to ward off any keylogger woes, but there always seems to be people who have their passwords stolen even though they did everything right.

This probably is the fault of exploits that have yet to be identified or patched, and it can also sometimes occur because of social engineering – it’s not unheard of for a Twitter account to be hacked and begin tweeting out links to malicious sites and files. Every smart geek is vigilant, but nobody is perfect.

Changing your passwords frequently will help minimize the potential damage of a keylogging attack. Your password may be stolen, but it would be uncommon for it to be stolen and used immediately, unless that keylogger was targeted directly at you (in which case you may have bigger problems than keylogging!). If you change your password every two weeks, your stolen information will no longer be useful.

Conclusion

These methods will help protect against keyloggers by decreasing their opportunity to infect your PC and decreasing the information they can steal if one does happen to be installed. Although you can never protect yourself 100%, taking these steps will decrease your risk.

If you know of any other security precautions, let us know in the comments.

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Comments (9)
  • Anonymous

    I know the best solution… Become Amish! =D

  • Andreas Beer

     Fast and easy way: copy’n’paste one or two characters into the password field instead of typing them.

    • Bloggers Templates

      Some keyloggers can record copy,cut,paste and all mouse activities. 

  • Wel

    MrG, the Windows on-screen keyboard (OSK) can be logged by pretty much every keylogger. It offers no protection from keyloggers or screen loggers.
    Try looking at something like Neo’s SafeKeys (http://www.aplin.com.au), as recommended here: http://www.techsupportalert.co

    Oh, and Gary – Neo’s SafeKeys can be used to give keylogger protection on internet cafes and hotel computers.

  • Wel

    MrG, the Windows on-screen keyboard (OSK) can be logged by pretty much every keylogger. It offers no protection from keyloggers or screen loggers.
    Try looking at something like Neo’s SafeKeys (http://www.aplin.com.au), as recommended here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-onscreen-keyboard-osk.htm.

    Oh, and Gary – Neo’s SafeKeys can be used to give keylogger protection on internet cafes and hotel computers.

  • Gary Dauphin

     All of these are great tips if you own or control the computer you are using.  None of these help with a rented computer at a coffee shop or hotel business center.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.