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Keystroke Logging

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms

Mabel from AK asks:
What exactly is keystroke logging? I’ve heard it mentioned in your tips before, but I’m not quite sure what it is. Please explain!

Basically, keystroke logging (also known as keylogging) is a method used to capture and record user keystrokes. It’s often thought of in a negative sense, but it can be used for good as well. For example, keylogging can be used to track down certain computer system errors, to research how users interact with certain systems and it can even be used to check on employee productivity for certain tasks. Keylogging is also useful in law enforcement, as it provides a way to unlock passwords and encryption keys.


Of course, keystroke logging is also a method used by hackers to get into another user’s computer and steal information. That’s the type we talk about the most in our computer tips, because we want to keep you safe at all times. There’s really not that much to it though. If you have an antivirus program, a good firewall and some type of anti-spyware software on your computer, you will be safe from keystroke loggers. Those types of applications can stop keystroke loggers in their tracks so that your information stays protected.

Back on the other side, there are two types of keystroke logging: hardware and software based. Hardware loggers come in three different types. First, there are the devices that are attached to the keyboard cable. They are inline devices and they are very easy to install, but they’re also easily detected. Secondly, there are the devices that can be installed inside an actual keyboard. They are rather difficult to install, but once they’re in, they are almost impossible to detect. Thirdly, there are replacement keyboards that already have the key logger built in. Those are obviously the easiest to work with and the logger is very hard to detect.

The software loggers are basically set up to see how users interact with different software programs on a computer. Like I said before, they can be used to keep track of how an employee is performing and so on. There are several different types of software keylogging, including local machine software keyloggers, remote access software keyloggers, wireless keylogger sniffers and acoustic keyloggers. They are all used for different tasks and they all provide different results.

As you can see, keystroke logging is used in a variety of ways and while it’s used for both positive and negative aspects, it is a useful procedure. There’s probably a lot more technical jargon I could bog you down with in terms of keystroke logging, but I think you get the gist.



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