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Keylogger Detection

Having a keylogger secretly installed on your computer is a fear for some people. Keylogging applications can be installed by hostile programs such as trojans or viruses and can record your keystrokes and send them back to another computer, all undetected by you. While this could be a nuisance for some people, it could be critical for people who use their computer to check personal data (such as banking) or who have access to proprietary business information on their computer.

Detecting Keylogging Software

As spy technology advances, it can be hard to detect new keylogging programs if you are using old anti-virus technology. The cycle basically goes like this: An monitoring program is written, and then antivirus program companies find out about it and add it to the detection list in their software. Then, the programmers modify their program so it is undetectable again, and then the antivirus people have to modify their software again, and this keeps going forever.

Because of this, the best way for most people (casual, non-technical computer users) to prevent software from spying on their keystrokes is to stay up to date with the most recent version of any good anti virus computer program. If you are using a version that is 3 years old, for example, it won’t be able to detect the newest versions.

Also remember that with most antivirus programs, staying “up to date” just means you have to download a new virus definition file which is quick and easy. Many programs do it automatically, or have an “update” button somewhere in their menu.

Detecting Keylogging Hardware

Unlike with software versions, hardware keyloggers cannot be detected by virus scanning software, because it is not a program running on your computer. The only way to detect the hardware variants is to physically look at the connection between your keyboard and your computer. Is there a device connected to the keyboard cord somewhere? If not, you’re probably safe (unless the device is inside the keyboard itself). If you do see something on the end of the cord, it could just be a USB/PS2 converter (such as if you’re using an older computer without any USB ports, but your keyboard cord is USB, you’d need a converter to make it work) or, vice versa, with a PS2/USB converter if you have an older keyboard and a newer computer.

One final note: If you’re using a logging program for text backup purposes (meaning you’ve intentionally installed it on your own computer), and you want it to keep working, make sure you add it to the “exclude” file of your virus scanning program so when you do your routine virus scans, it doesn’t detect and delete it. Otherwise, keep its installation files handy cuz you’ll have to reinstall it after the virus scanner removes it.