A keystroke logger does precisely what its name suggests: it logs all keystrokes from a computer keyboard.
Keystroke loggers can alert supervisors to potential security problems.
The concept for keystroke logging dates back to before the time when PCs were in common use. In the 1970s during the height of the Cold War, Soviet spies actually placed keyloggers onto U.S. diplomats’ IBM typewriters. The devices could only be detected using x-rays, and except for spaces, tabs, hyphens, and backspaces, they could record every keystroke. The results were transmitted to Soviet agents in real-time using radio frequency technology.
The technology, of course, has advanced immeasurably since then. Today’s keyloggers are mostly hardware-free, logging individual keystrokes using software programs and transmitting the results to a local server or to the cloud in real-time.
Businesses have adopted keystroke loggers both to monitor employee productivity and to aid in the early detection of potential data leaks or insider threats.
How Do Corporate Keystroke Loggers Work?
Keyloggers work by getting in between links in the chain of events that occurs between the instant a key is pressed and when information about the keystroke shows up on the monitor. Information about each keystroke is captured, and typically the information is stored in a small file that is either automatically uploaded or accessed later. Some software records mouse clicks as well.
Most keystroke logging software works by using a “system hook” which intercepts notification that a key has been pressed. Keyboards generate two “scan codes” for each key: one when the user presses the key and another when the user releases it. Keystroke loggers can get in-between generation of these two scan codes to capture which keys are pressed.
There are other points in the keyboard processing sequence when a keystroke logger can intercept data about keys pressed and transmit that information to the admin of the keystroke logger software. Regardless of where the information intercept occurs, the keystroke logger can send the appropriate data to the management console.
What Kinds of Data Does a Keystroke Logger Collect?
Specific keystroke logger packages may collect different types of data. Typically, however, keystroke logger software is able to collect the following types of data:
If you think that keystroke logging is powerful, then you’re correct. But it’s important to bear in mind that it is a tool, and tools can be used for many different purposes.
Keystroke Loggers May Be Used for Good or Bad Purposes
Many people first encounter information about keystroke loggers from news articles about hacking incidents. Hackers sometimes use keystroking logging software because it provides them exactly the information that they want without having to directly interact with computer users. Criminals can use keyloggers to obtain people’s passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, or other sensitive personal data (like Social Security numbers) that can be used to steal identities or access people’s banking or credit card accounts.
Law enforcement agencies have used keystroke loggers to help apprehend criminals.
Keystroke logger can be used for beneficial purposes too. Sometimes law enforcement agencies use keystroke logging software to monitor criminal activity online by people who are under investigation. Parents may put a keystroke logger onto a child’s computer to gain information about what the child is doing online.
And an increasing number of businesses are using keystroke logging software to monitor employee productivity and protect against insider threats and data leaks. Companies that do this must comply with all applicable laws, which may vary from one state or country to another. And when companies decide to use a keystroke logger, they should include a discussion of keylogging software in their company computer policy so that employees know that keystroke logger software is being used.
Main Business Use Cases for Keystroke logging Software
Businesses can use keystroke logging software to investigate employees suspected of accessing or mishandling sensitive company assets. Some businesses are subject to compliance audits, and many of these businesses find that demonstrating compliance is easier when they have reports that show exactly what employees have been doing.
And if a company suspects a disgruntled employee is sharing company privileged information, they may use keystroke logging tools to gather evidence before confronting the employee.
Features to Look for in Keystroke Logging Tool
Keystroke loggers are widely available, and more businesses are taking advantage of its availability to increase productivity and shore up computer security. Before choosing a keystroke logger, companies should determine some basic information about candidate software packages:
Here are some features to look for when exploring keystroke logger options for your company:
Interguard offers all of these features and has helped many companies just like yours protect sensitive data, maintain a professional work environment, and maximize employee productivity. If you would like to learn more about keystroke logging software for your business, we invite you to visit our Employee Keylogger Monitoring page.