In cases of online identity theft, keyloggers play one of the most important roles in the actual act of stealing. If you’ve ever had an online account stolen from you – whether it was for Facebook, Gmail, a forum, or a video game – and you couldn’t explain how it was stolen, then the likely explanation is a keylogger. They’re dangerous, and no one is safe from them.
What exactly is a keylogger? Forgive me for using the term in the definition, but it’s a malicious infection that resides on your computer, logging a record of your keys as you press them. It saves every key pressed on your keyboard then sends that information back to a home server somewhere. A hacker then uses this information to break into your personal accounts and dig through your information.
Types of Keyloggers
When it comes to keyloggers, there are two categories that you need to know – software and hardware.
A software keylogger is a malicious program that resides entirely within your computer. They run in the background, invisible to the average user’s knowledge, and everything is done through the operating system. For the most part, these programs will record keystrokes into a file, then send that file back to the hacker at regular intervals, which requires Internet access.
A hardware keylogger is an actual physical device that plugs into your computer, most likely through a USB port. These type of keyloggers are entirely self-contained and will record the keypresses to internal memory without ever installing any software to the computer. This makes it harder for a user to detect, though obviously the jig is up if they ever see the device.
The anti-keylogger software in this article will only protect against software-based keylogger threats. The thing about hardware keyloggers is that the hacker must physically get it hooked into your system, which is quite difficult if you aren’t Jason Bourne. Still, if you absolutely want to be sure, you can check your computer inputs every once in a while to check that no hardware keyloggers are present.
If all you need is an anti-keylogger, Zemana’s AntiLogger Free will suffice. As far as features go, the Free version won’t give you much of anything. All it has is a system-wide keylogger guard that encrypts each individual keystroke at the system level. This way, even if your information is sent back to a hacker, it’ll be jumbled and unreadable.
For $29.95, you can upgrade to the Full version of Zemana AntiLogger. In addition to the keylogger guard, you’ll get features like malware alerts, protection against financial malware, and cloud-powered protection against malware when it tries to install itself onto your system.
Having used Zemana for a bit, I was surprised by how out-of-the-way it was. It sat in the system tray and never once bothered me. It will notify you when you run a program that Zemana is not compatible with, which may include programs like video games and the like. There is an option in the settings to enable “Zemana promotions” but I disabled that, so I didn’t experience any unwanted advertisements.
Note: This is the only program on this list where the free version will work on 64-bit systems.
SpyShelter’s software is a little more advanced than Zemana. In the Free version, not only do you get a keylogger guard, but also a screen capture guard and a clipboard guard. STOP-LOGGER sits in the background and defends against malware that tries to steal this information from under your nose.
For €24.95, you can purchase the Premium version, which comes with a webcam guard, audio guard, network guard, and support for 64-bit systems. (Sadly, yes, the Free version is only for 32-bit systems.) For €29.95, you can get the Firewall version, which is like the Premium except it comes with a built-in firewall.
To be honest, I’m quite impressed with SpyShelter STOP-LOGGER. It sits in the background, does not hog up too many resources, only sends out notifications when necessary, but most of all, it’s extremely transparent. It has a log window that tracks every one of its actions; it tells you exactly which programs are being protected and which are not; and it’s very customizable in how it deals with the potential threats encountered.
My only gripe is that the Free version doesn’t work for 64-bit systems, which is almost a shot in the foot considering how most computers these days are moving towards a 64-bit architecture.
NextGen AntiKeylogger is easy-to-use anti-keylogger software that doesn’t use an anti-virus database for its protection method, which means less system resources required in its use. It provides against keystroke logging by working at the system level, encrypting keystrokes on-the-fly and injecting them straight into applications so that hackers can’t steal what you’re typing.
As effective as NextGen AntiKeylogger is, it does have its downsides. Because of the way it works, the Free version only works with IE, Firefox, and Safari. The Pro version ($25) expands to other browsers, instant messengers, email clients, etc. for a total of 75 protected programs. The Ultimate version ($39) expands to a total of 108 protected programs.
It’s a shame that the Free version only protects IE, Firefox, and Safari, but despite its limited reach, it does do a fine job of protection. It even has the option to display an overlay that shows you its real-time encryption of your keypresses. Unfortunately, if you don’t use IE, Firefox, or Safari as your main browser, then you’ll find little value here.
The cold and honest truth, however, is that preventative software will never catch 100% of keylogger cases. Hackers are constantly creating new keyloggers and new malware to infest computers all over the globe. Protective software will always be playing a game of “catch up”.
So if you want to maximize your safety, be sure to read Matt’s article on 4 ways to protect yourself against keyloggers.
Malware is annoying, but keyloggers can destroy lives. You don’t want your credit card information stolen. You don’t want your emails hacked into. You don’t want hackers to gain access to your personal information. Therefore, protect yourself if you aren’t already. Keyloggers are serious business!
Image Credit: Hands on Keyboard Via Shutterstock