Definition

keylogger (keystroke logger, key logger, or system monitor)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Antimalware tools and techniques security pros need right now

A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger, key logger, or system monitor, is a hardware device or small program that monitors each keystroke a user types on a specific computer's keyboard. As a hardware device, a keylogger is a small battery-sized plug that serves as a connector between the user's keyboard and computer. Because the device resembles an ordinary keyboard plug, it is relatively easy for someone who wants to monitor a user's behavior to physically hide such a device "in plain sight." (It also helps that most workstation keyboards plug into the back of the computer.) As the user types, the device collects each keystroke and saves it as text in its own miniature hard drive. At a later point in time, the person who installed the keylogger must return and physically remove the device in order to access the information the device has gathered.

A keylogger program does not require physical access to the user's computer. It can be downloaded on purpose by someone who wants to monitor activity on a particular computer or it can be downloaded unwittingly as spyware and executed as part of a rootkit or remote administration (RAT) Trojan horse. A keylogger program typically consists of two files that get installed in the same directory: a dynamic link library (DLL) file (which does all the recording) and an executable file (.EXE) that installs the DLL file and triggers it to work. The keylogger program records each keystroke the user types and uploads the information over the Internet periodically to whoever installed the program.

Although keylogger programs are promoted for benign purposes like allowing parents to monitor their children's whereabouts on the Internet, most privacy advocates agree that the potential for abuse is so great that legislation should be enacted to clearly make the unauthorized use of keyloggers a criminal offense.

This was last updated in September 2010

Continue Reading About keylogger (keystroke logger, key logger, or system monitor)

Join the conversation

7 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

It help me alot
Cancel
Such kind of great informative article. I have also heard about Amac keylogger for PC. It works more effectively. It also helps you in multiple ways.
Cancel
This is another method hackers use to gain access to systems. My concern with these types of loggers is this, How often do you check your hardware connection from the keyboard to the computer? Most users do not climb under their desk daily and look to see if one has been installed.
Cancel
A pretty great post. I think users may try Amac keylogger for Mac. It works more effectively.
Cancel
I have been puzzled about this and this article give me a lot, now I can clearly know what is the Micro Keylogger and it does really help me.
Cancel
The use of keyloggers depends on how you are using it. Not all keyloggers are virus, there are legit keylogging softwares on the market, you just have to find them. Those that provides a license to their software are usually legitimate and you can guarantee their service. I for one is using a keylogger on my laptop and it helped me to caught my cheating partner red-handed. I'm using wolfeye keylogger and never regretted it. Look it up. They also have it on cnet, which confirms it is a quality product.
Cancel
I forgot about that, I installed one on my buddies computer. He suspected his wife was having an affair. Well it only took about 3 days and he was able to see her e-mails being sent to her "friend"... He is now divorced and happier than I have seen him in a couple of years.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchSecurity

SearchCloudSecurity

SearchNetworking

SearchCIO

SearchConsumerization

SearchEnterpriseDesktop

ComputerWeekly

Close