You might not realize it, but your computer or phone constantly records everything you do. Every keystroke, every website you visit, and every password you type is recorded by a piece of software or hardware called a keylogger or keystroke logger.

Keyloggers are used for many different things – from tracking employees’ activity to monitoring children’s internet use – but their proliferation has led to an epidemic of cybercrime affecting millions of people every year.

Here’s what you need to know about keyloggers and how to protect your personal information.

How Does Keylogging Work?

Keylogging records every keystroke on a computer or other device, including usernames and passwords. This can be done with a hardware device plugging into your keyboard or software installed on your computer or mobile.

Keystroke logging software or hardware operates silently in the background while using your computer. It records every keystroke you make and stores them on your computer. This allows someone to see what you typed even after deleting it from the screen.

The best types of keyloggers can also record other activities on your computer or phone, including screenshots, web pages visited, etc. It can even record mouse movements if there’s one installed on your system.

A keylogger can be legal or illegal, depending on the circumstances and how it’s used.

Legitimate companies use keylogging software to monitor employee activity to ensure that workers perform their jobs properly and do not waste time on non-work-related tasks.

This monitoring software type is legal in most countries because it has been installed with the user’s consent, although some countries require prior notification.

However, keyloggers can also be used for illegal purposes by criminals to steal personally identifiable information such as usernames, passwords or credit card numbers. This can happen if an unsuspecting victim visits a website infected with malware that automatically installs this type of malicious software onto their computers without their knowledge.

What Are the Warning Signs of Keylogging?

If you suspect that you have detected a keylogger and that your device may have been compromised, here are some warning signs:

  • You see unfamiliar programs running in the background.
  • You’ve recently installed a new program but can’t remember doing so or where it came from.
  • Your keyboard doesn’t work correctly.
  • Strange pop-ups appear on your screen unexpectedly.
  • Your device runs slower than usual or freezes up frequently.

How Can Keylogging Be Prevented?

Here are some ways you can help prevent keylogging.

  • Use antivirus software that can detect and block malware. Make sure it has features like real-time scanning and automatic updates.
  • Don’t click on links that you don’t know or trust. This includes links in emails, on social media sites, instant messaging clients and any other site you visit while surfing the web.
  • Ensure that your browser is updated with all the latest security patches and fixes since most of them contain security loopholes that hackers use to infect their victims’ computers with malware like keyloggers.
  • When entering personal data online, use a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible that requires you to enter an additional code after entering your password.

What To Do If You’re a Victim of Keylogging

If you believe you’re a victim of keylogging, you should take action immediately to protect your information.

First, you should check your computer for keylogging software. Then, open the task manager and look for suspicious processes running in the background; terminate them immediately.

You can use anti-keylogger software to detect and remove keyloggers on your device. If you find anything suspicious, remove it right away.

You should scan your computer with antivirus software to ensure no spyware or keylogger malware is present.

Also, change all your passwords. If the keylogger could log your passwords, they might have been compromised. Even if they weren’t, changing them is always a good idea after any security incident.

To better protect your personal information, consider identity theft protection. IdentityIQ services are dedicated to safeguarding your personal information from cybercriminals with real-time fraud alerts and identity restoration specialists ready to assist you. Plus, IdentityIQ plans allow you to add antivirus and VPN protection.