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What Is a Keylogger?

Allowing hackers access to critical information is detrimental. Find out how Cox Business MalBlock® and our Security suite helps close the door on malicious hackers.

A keylogger is a type of spyware designed to track and record keystrokes made by a user to capture sensitive information. Keyloggers can be difficult to detect because users aren’t aware their activities are being recorded. Learn all about keyloggers and how to protect your business data from getting into the wrong hands.

What Do Keyloggers Do?

Keyloggers aren’t always used for malicious purposes. Businesses can use keyloggers for legitimate reasons, like monitoring an employee’s online behavior in a work setting. However, it’s important to note keylogging is often used without a person’s full consent and awareness.


When a keylogger infects a device, they’re able to eavesdrop on private conversations. A user’s online behavior and personal data can easily be captured by tracking keystrokes. Everything from social media accounts and email logins to websites visited and payment information can be tracked. The data stolen typically includes financial information, login credentials, credit card numbers and other sensitive information used to commit fraud or identity theft.

How Do Keyloggers Work?

Keyloggers can infect a device using various methods, including:

Phishing Scams

Hackers send a fake email, text, message or advertisement to a user pretending to be a legitimate organization. A scam will include a link that looks like a company’s website asking the user to enter their personal information and exposing them to a keylogger.

Trojan Malware

Hackers use a Trojan horse disguised as a piece of software to enter a user’s device and spy on them via phishing scams. The Trojan virus records a user’s online activity and relays any information back to the hacker. Hackers can also get to know the user through this method and send items like coupons and advertisements they may be interested in to entice them to enter payment information.

Webpage Script

If users enter a fake or malicious site from an unknown source, their device can become vulnerable to keyloggers. The web page script is then able to find a vulnerability through the browser.

Infected System

Devices already infected with malware are much more vulnerable to keyloggers.

Types of Keyloggers

Malicious hackers can use hardware or software to capture a user’s data. These tools record the data entered by a user’s keystrokes into a file the hacker can retrieve. Some tools can even capture data on a user’s calls, microphone, keyboard and webcam. Here are examples of the various types of keyloggers.

Software Keyloggers

Software is the most common tool a hacker will use to steal data. With software, a keylogger will use malware programs to hide in a system. Here are examples of common keylogger software types:


  • Application Programming Interface Keyloggers: These types of keyloggers directly record keystrokes into a system file. 
  • Form Grabbing Keyloggers: These keyloggers capture any information entered on a website form. Data is then recorded and sent to a web server.
  • Kernel Keyloggers: These keyloggers enter a user’s device to access everything stored on their system.

Hardware Keyloggers

These types of keyloggers are physically built into a user’s device. Common examples of hardware keyloggers are:


  • Keyboard Keyloggers: These keyloggers are often installed as USB drives directly onto a keyboard to track a user’s keystrokes.
  • Hidden Camera Keyloggers: Hackers place hidden cameras in public spaces, like an ATM, where they can visibly track keystrokes.
  • Malware Keyloggers: Viruses like Trojan horses can unknowingly be installed by a user. Once inside a device, the Trojan horse delivers the keystroke logger malware.

How to Detect Keyloggers

Keyloggers can be extremely difficult to detect. However, here are a few warning signs to look out for:


  • Hardware keyloggers can look like a new USB drive attached to your computer that you didn’t install. Simply remove anything unknown attached to your device.
  • Software keyloggers slow down your computer performance and cause lag, excessive pop-ups or new icons to appear on your desktop and excessive network activity.

How to Protect Against Keyloggers

Here are precautions to take to help protect your business when engaging in online activity:


  • Be aware of phishing scams and avoid opening emails or attachments from unknown senders
  • Use two-factor authentication and encryption for your passwords to protect your devices
  • Install anti-spyware programs to help detect software-based keyloggers

Guarding against keyloggers may require a variety of defenses but equipping your business Internet with the right security measures can help. Cox Business MalBlock offers company-wide cyber security that blocks threats like keyloggers, Trojan horses and other types of malware before they reach your network. Upgrade your business Internet today and get the peace of mind and security you need.

What can Malblock do for your business?

Find out how our customized solution can protect your business against cyber-attacks.

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