Don’t Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti-Keylogger Tools

Anti Keylogger Tools Intro   Dont Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti Keylogger ToolsIn 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.

Zemana AntiLogger Free

antikeylogger zemana   Dont Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti Keylogger Tools

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 STOP-LOGGER

antikeylogger spyshelter   Dont Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti Keylogger Tools

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

antikeylogger nextgen   Dont Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti Keylogger Tools

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.

Conclusion

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

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44 Comments -

Kamil Ko

Cool, thank you so much for noting the 64-bit compliant ones.
I heard Spybot Search & Destroy finds key loggers in scans – is that rue?

Joel Lee

Spybot S&D can detect keyloggers, yes. However, while Spybot has been great in the past, I’m not entirely sure if their detection rates are up to par these days. If you’re particularly wary about a keylogger on your system, I’d use a program that is specifically meant to remove keyloggers.

Godel

Zemana full version is usually available for download at serif.com for 12.95 British Pounds, (about $21 USD), including VAT (which probably shouldn’t be charged for foreign sales, but still is).

It’s also frequently discounted during the year at various web sites.

KeyScrambler personal is another free program which encrypts the key strokes between your keyboard and IE Explorer, Firefox and Flock. I’ve been using it for years. More comprehensive paid versions are also available.

http://www.qfxsoftware.com/ks-windows/which-keyscrambler.htm

Joel Lee

The discounts on Zemana are good to know! Thanks for sharing, especially about KeyScrambler.

Raymond Led Carasco

Hey Mr. Joel.
I would just like to ask if these anti-keylogging software you have featured can protect the user from both software and hardware keyloggers?
Thanks :)

Matheus Pratta

As far I know, these will only protect against software keyloggers, since hardware keyloggers are (most times) small pieces of hardware in between the keyboard connector and the CPU.

Joel Lee

Hey. Like Matheus said, they will only protect against software keyloggers. As mentioned in the article:

“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…”

:)

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Software. You’re only vulnerable to hardware keylogger if you’re using computer that isn’t your own. While not exactly reason to be paranoid, it’s good to check for one if you’ve just gotten your computer back from servicing. Who knows who’ll pull a prank on you?

Douglas Mutay

Very Good point Lisa, especially when computer comes back from repair. Thanks

Tracy Ford

I don’t how prevalent it is, but I have heard of keylogging programs that install themselves in a user’s computer via malicious links under the guise of email/Facebook messages, etc. I don’t know if this is a real threat or not, just something to consider.

Tracy Ford

Sorry, I just noticed that you were referring to hardware keyloggers. I was referring to malicious keylogging software. Different animals.

Venkateswara Swamy Swarna

How to be sure that the anti-key logger itself is not a malicious software? Also, if I am not mistaken, all the sites that try to capture credit card information are supposed to use encryption and many of them provide virtual keyboard, which is supposed to be safer.

Joel Lee

That’s the question with most software, haha! Can we trust the guy who says “trust me”? The best way to keep safe is to read reviews and recommendations from other users. Also, if a program is open-source, you can check the source yourself.

Virtual keyboards are one way to circumvent keyloggers, though they can be inconvenient depending on the implementation.

Venkateswara Swamy Swarna

Yes, virtual keyboards are a pain in the neck (or which ever organ that you prefer…) but I use them from the safety point of view. I have been using netbanking and online shopping (using my credit cards) for the last few years without any problem, partly because of the encryption of the sites and the virtual keyboards. One more protection that we get in India is that whenever we use our credit card or debit card or make a transaction online using net banking (transfer of funds for example), we get a SMS to the specified mobile phone. Also, there are dual layer or multi-layer log in screens with pre-selected images and or words and they too help in authenticating the site that we are visiting.

Thanks for a good article. More than the actual software, it increases our awareness of the problem and helps us to keep on guard.

Anonymous

Nice article. Thanks

Richard Steven Hack

“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.”

Actually, if we’re talking about office computers as opposed to home computers (where burglary is required – or simply a jealous wife or husband or nosy child), it’s fairly easy. Hackers do this sort of thing all the time – as well as coworkers. Any large office is fairly easy to penetrate under one pretext or another. Penetration testers routinely sneak into offices and attach keyloggers as well as USB keys and entire “dropboxes” – small PCs that are hooked into the network in order to penetrate the network from the “inside”.

Preventing physical access to a PC is Rule Number One: “If a hacker has physical access to your PC, it isn’t your PC.”

Of course, software keyloggers ARE a bigger threat since they can be installed by malware or live hacking without any physical access. I

However, don’t be too confident in your anti-keylogger. Some malware can bypass them either by taking hidden periodic screenshots or screenshots when certain software is being used, or by simply disabling or otherwise bypassing them.

SafeCentral has an article on the subject, including a link to a tool which tests keyloggers by various means to see if they work:

For Advanced Users: Anti-keylogger testing
http://community.safecentral.com/showthread.php?t=55

Joel Lee

Hmm, that’s news to me. Very interesting. Of course, any public space (and one could argue that an office building is a public space even though it might be privately owned) will be much easier to access than a private space (e.g., my bedroom). Keeping watch of your PC is important.

And yes, the problem with anti-keyloggers is the same problem as anti-malware and anti-virus software: they’re reactive. If someone can figure out how to circumvent the anti-software, then it’ll be rendered moot.

Rajaa Chowdhury

Awesome, thank you so much. I just installed the Zemana AntiLogger Free on my 64bit Windows 7 Pc after reading the article. MakeUseOf articles and staff Rocks!!!

Caroline West

When I began online banking my bank offered me a service called ‘Trusteer Rapport’ http://www.trusteer.com and they provide many tools like protection against keyloggers and the like. It’s a free service and its button resides in the toolbar so whenever you enter a site where your sensitive information needs to be used – clicking the icon will protect you. It’s a really good service and free.

Joel Lee

Hey, that’s pretty cool! I’ve never heard of it but if a bank is endorsing it, then it’s probably worth trying out (unless the bank is incompetent, but I digress). Thanks for sharing.

Gordon Hay

Trusteer is partnered with more than 200 banks so we would hope they’re not all incompetent, even with the recent scandals!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

What scandal?

Gordon Hay

Where have you been for the last four years – credit swaps, Libor, excessive bonuses, Lheman Bros, Northern Rock etc., etc.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Sorry. Well, there have been a lot going on one would naturally be curious which scandal you’re referring to.

Gordon Hay

Understood, though I did refer to scandals in the plural which was perhaps a sweepng statement. As far as the main topic goes, I can definitely recommend Trusteer Rapport.

Caroline West

Your welcome!. Even here at MUO, the Trusteer Icon is in the address bar (or URL bar, not toolbar – I never know which one to call it!) so if I activate it it will add another layer of protection. For Banking it is reassuring and concise giving a weekly report on what it blocked along with what attempts were made to get hold of sensitive info. It’s really good and extremely worthwhile having it :-)

Thomas Petrucha

Nice Software … but I prefer a extern hardware-key-scambler, little piece of Hardware beween my usb Plug and my PC … an nothing to frear ;)

Lisa Santika Onggrid

If you have the resource, it’s a good one too, and you’re not bothered with install/uninstall routine that way.

Mac Witty

Thanks, will go through the family’s computers to see if there is any

Ashwin Ramesh

Very informative article. Thanks Joel! I installed the Zemana AntiLogger onto my system, but my Antivirus popped up saying “Potentially malicious application detected”. Hope it’s safe to install?

Lisa Santika Onggrid

It’s false positive. Zemana is trustable as far as I know. The antivirus might response because the natural trait of the anti-keylogger might turn on the alarm.

Rene Vela

I use a program called Keyscrambler. Its free and it installs a plugin on both Firefox, Opera, and IE.

FreeJet

Caution! I installed SpyShelter STOP-LOGGER on my computer with 32-bit Win XP Pro(SP3) and, on reboot, got the dreaded BSOD. My best guess is it may be conflicting with my Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software or WinPatrol or Process Lasso or AVG-Free. I had to reboot in Safe Mode to uninstall it and all is back to normal.

Joel Lee

That’s weird. You’re probably right about it conflicting with one of your other preventative software programs. It’s too bad that STOP-LOGGER didn’t work for you!

Richard Borkovec

The best, though most inconvenient, is to boot into a live CD that has Tor built-in, like TAILS. It’s Debian based, so it’s rock solid and pretty immune to keyloggers, plus with TOR built in you’re completely anonymous. It’s inconvenient, but it’d be a sure fire way to make sure you don’t get keyloggers.

Anonymous user

“with TOR built in you’re completely anonymous”

That would be sweet. The truth is that since anyone can set up a server, anyone could be harvesting the traffic through that server on the Tor network. And if one runs an exist server it’s even more interesting then anything else ^oo^

So to keep it short… there is no anonymity on the internet. Why? It’s technically not possible.

But I agree… against keyloggers some Unix system is for sure sweet.

Anonymous user

“The cold and honest truth, however, is that preventative software will never catch 100% of keylogger cases”

AMEN.

+10 for this post, Joel.

Joel Lee

Thank you! I appreciate it. ;D

dmachop

Is this still relevant to linux?

Joel Lee

The programs on this list are Windows only, but the principles still apply to Linux, yes. I don’t have a Linux installation, though, otherwise I could recommend you a couple of Linux-based anti-keyloggers.

KamilKozyra

I am writing this comment just because it might help somebody.

I used the onscreen keyboard (built into Windows) to type. I installed Zemana (above) because I have a 64-bit OS. After a few days of use, I started having problems with my Shift keys. They would flicker on the onscreen keyboard randomly. I switches keyboards – still same problem. I noticed the same (but not as severe) flickering on my laptop’s onscreen keyboard too. I used Revo in Windows’ safe mode to completely uninstall & no issues so far :)

Tina Sieber

Thank you for sharing, Kamil!

Jesus Ososrnio

STOP-LOGGER SpyShelter it worked perfect, thanks for the info

Mohammad Wasiullah

I like spyshelter