Keyloggers are a type of malware that records all the keys you typed into your computer. According to SANS Institute researcher John Bambenek, an estimated 10 million computers are infected with keyloggers in the US alone.
The keylogger can stay undetected in your computer for months or even years while silently recording all your keystrokes. You can get infected with keyloggers by opening suspicious links and emails and visiting or downloading anything from shady websites.
If you are suspicious that this malware may have infiltrated your computer, we will show you how you can detect it.
What are Keyloggers?
There are several different types of keyloggers, and they perform their function by targeting specific processes of your system. However, their goal is the same, stealing your data and other private information.
Some keyloggers can also record your clipboard history and read text messages for more information. Keyloggers can be broadly categorized into the following types:
Software keyloggers are the most widely used type of keyloggers to steal information. It intercepts keystrokes information passing through inside the system to record your keystrokes. It basically comes into two forms:
- User Mode Keyloggers: Intercepts information passing through the keyboard to the Windows API
- Kernel Mode Keyloggers: Records information directly from the Keyboard
Hardware keyloggers are keyloggers that physically attach to the keyboard or CPU to record your keystrokes. However, it isn’t used much, as the attacker would need to access your computer physically to set it up.
Hardware keyloggers are usually small attachments on top of the keyboard’s USB header.
How to Check for a Keylogger on Your Computer?
There are various methods to determine if malware like Keylogger has infected your computer. However, this malware is designed to hide in your system so that it can steal more information.
It would be better to try all the methods on this list to have a higher chance of detecting this harmful software.
Look for Suspicious Programs
Most Malware infects your computer by packaging itself with legitimate software downloaded from shady websites. You can go through all your installed programs for any suspicious ones or those you do not remember downloading.
Here’s how you can do so:
- Access Run utility with the Windows key + R key.
controlto open Control Panel.
- Navigate to Programs > Programs and Features.
- Look through all your installed Programs for suspicious ones. (If you don’t know what the program does, you can check it up online to see if it is harmful or not.)
If you do find some suspicious programs, you can select them and click on Uninstall to remove them.
Use Task Manager
Task Manager can help you detect keyloggers, but you will have to go through each of the running programs manually. Task Manager shows you all the running programs and processes, including the ones running in the background.
While some advanced keyloggers may hide their process in Task Manager, most of them will not be able to do so.
- Right-click start menu and select Task Manager.
- In Task Manager, go through all the active processes running in the background.
- You can look up what the process does online if you find any suspicious processes consuming resources.
- Background processes do not consume many resources, so also look for comparatively high resource consumption.
- Additionally, make sure to look for typos in the system processes name. (Malware can disguise itself with legit system process names, but they usually have typos.)
If you find malware processes in Task Manager, you can right-click the process and select Open file location. You can then delete that harmful process.
However, some malware may have hidden multiple copies of it in different locations. So, it is also recommended to run antivirus software to properly neutralize the threat.
Use Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is a reliable method of detecting and protecting your computer against harmful threats like malware. Most antiviruses have decent capabilities in finding hard-to-detect malware like Keylogger.
You can also choose the paid version of antiviruses for better security and other features. Some of the best antivirus software is Bit Defender, Avast, McAfee, and Norton.
Check Your Active Internet Connections
Keyloggers can record your keystrokes while offline, but they won’t be able to transmit that information. For the Keyloggers to be able to transmit back the data, they need to have an active internet connection, which you can look through on your computer.
Here’s how you can look through all your active internet connections:
- In your PC, close any legitimate process using an internet connection.
- Press Windows + R shortcut key to open Run dialog box.
cmdand press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Elevated Command Prompt.
- In Command Prompt, enter the following command:
- Check all your active internet connections for any suspicious connections.
- If you see
svchost.exe, or any legitimate Windows application with no typos, they are safe applications.
- If you see any unfamiliar programs having an active internet connection, search for that process online.
Check for Hardware Keyloggers
Lastly, Keyloggers aren’t only software-based malware that intercepts information from API to API. Some hardware keyloggers are physically attached to your keyboard or computer to steal information and record them.
Most hardware keyloggers are small extensions on the wired keyboard’s USB head and connect the keyboard to the CPU. Hardware Keyloggers are not hard to detect, as they are usually attached on the outside.
While hardware Keyloggers can be placed inside the CPU, keyboard, or laptop, they are pretty inefficient as a keylogger. For a hardware Keylogger to be inside your computer hardware, the attacker would have to dismantle your PC, install the Keylogger, and then reassemble your computer again.