The World, where everything from your computer to your TV is connected via internet has a darker side like everything else. Viruses, Worms, Hackers etc. are all quiet popular words today and are no longer a part of the geek terminology. The malicious software are gaining more and more power and sophistication everyday making task of good guys increasingly difficult. As of today, the purpose of these is not limited to hacking your system for fun or just destroying it. The people behind these have grown up from being script-kiddies to hard core information thieves.
What is a keylogger
Keylogger is one such invention of these devious minds. A Key logger is a software, which is silently installed on your system, without your knowledge to record all the keystrokes that you type on your keyboard. This recorded information is then usually sent to the owner of the program to use it to their heart’s content. The usual installation method of these is by slipping them inside a trojan horse, so while you are busy playing with that new, brilliant card game that you just got from your friend in email, your computer gets infected, behind the scene.
Problems with keylogger
Keyloggers are a bit hard to detect, specially the modern ones. Some of the simple keyloggers are just executable files that run in background without showing up a user interface. The harder ones can use some parasite kind of technique to run using other, innocent software’s processes. Here are a few things that can be done to check for and remove these digital thieves:
First and foremost, press ctrl+alt+del and choose task manager from the dialog that comes up. Alternatively, you can use ctrl+esc on Windows XP and above to launch it. Go to the processes tab and examine the running processes. If some process looks unusual or seems to be taking CPU time whenever you do some activity on your keyboard, it can definitely be the problem. Just search for the exe file name and you might find that it’s a known culprit. Kill it from here by right clicking and choosing end process.
Download a start-up management program like startup control panel using which you can delete the registry entries it might have created to launch on every system reboot. The system configuration utility, msconfig.exe, which comes with Windows, can also be used for this task.
Update your antivirus and run a full system scan, along with a boot time scan. It might detect and remove the keylogger for you.
Many antivirus providers and independent security firms provide specific tools that remove certain well known keyloggers. You can use these in case the antivirus detects but fails to remove the key logger.
It’s possible that the key logger is an advance one and is running through a service hosting executable, like svchost.exe of windows (also called the parasite mode of execution). If that is the case, you may notice that in task manager, one or more of these svchost.exe processes are taking continuous CPU cycles. In Windows Vista and above, you can right click these processes and choose show services to list all the services running under it. If you find an offensive service there, you will need to remove it manually using registry editing. Try searching on the internet for articles on how to do it. It’s a dangerous process if not done with care, so be fully aware of what you are doing.
If all of this fails, then perhaps you are out of luck and may need to reinstall the operating system itself after wiping the disk clean. But use it as a last resort only.
Keyloggers are the new thieves of the modern society. You can avoid them to a certain extent by doing simple things like taking care while handling files from any sources and not falling for anything just because it looks interesting, updating your antivirus regularly and applying updates released by your OS manufacturer periodically. But if you do get infected, do not panic, just disconnect from internet and try the above described techniques to get rid of it. Without the internet, a keylogger is as good as dead. And last but not least, keep your sensitive information safe by encrypting it and periodically changing your important passwords.
About the author: Kate Wilsson is a blogger who also happens to be tech freak. She loves spending on tech stuff and recently purchased a wireless media player. She is a hardcore biker as well and is planning to own a Schwinn bicycle soon.