Threat actors are increasing in number, and so are the tricks and techniques they use to compromise their targets. From using malicious software and hacking into computer systems to performing social engineering attacks to stealing sensitive information about a target, malicious actors use whatever they can in order to hack into their target’s network. There are different types of malware present in the wild that allow an attacker to compromise a target computer system. One particular type of malware is a keylogging malware or a keylogger,  which this blog talks about, and which can be used by adversaries to record the keystrokes that are entered on the computer system on which the attackers have installed the keylogging malware. This blog also describes the various security implications of a keylogger being installed on a target system.

A threat actor can use various techniques to get keylogging malware onto a target organization’s computer systems. They could send a bogus email that seems to be from the IT department of the company that could be asking an employee to download and install specific software that the company wants everyone to use. In this way, the attackers could manage to deliver the keylogger onto the victim machine. Once the keylogger is installed on the victim machine, it would start recording or logging all the keys that would be pressed on the keyboard that is attached to the victim machine. The keylogger could either send the logged keys to the threat actors as and when they are entered onto the keyboard, or the keylogger could save all the keystrokes in a text file and then send that text file over to the threat actors, either after a particular time interval or any other condition that the attackers might set into the source code of the keylogging malware.

As most of the information that employees may type while working on their workstations is usually sensitive, a keylogging malware attack could cause significant losses to a target organization. Let’s say for example if a computer system that belongs to the financial department gets infected by a keylogging malware, then it could cause monetary damages to the target organization. This is because the threat actors might be able to steal financial information, such as bank account details, online bank account usernames and passwords, and other financial information that the attackers could use to steal money from the company, its customers, partners, suppliers, etc.

Most keyloggers’ log files, before getting exfiltrated, usually get stored on the target system first, but they could be hidden and not be visible to anyone, and this makes detection very difficult. Another issue is that at times even if someone manages to find a keylogger’s log file, that log file could be encrypted or in a format that no software on the victim computer can read, and therefore, the victim might not get to know what lies within that file. This would cause the victim to remain unaware of the fact that they just fell prey to a keylogging attack, and that all the sensitive information that they would have typed into their systems had been sent to a cyber-criminal. By recording a target’s keystrokes, the attackers can completely pwn a victim’s life and cause vast amounts of damage to them.

Attackers could also use keyloggers to steal credentials for victims’ online accounts, such as social media websites, and cause damage to the victims by impersonating them and sending bogus messages to their online contacts. This could damage a person’s reputation among their friends, family, and colleagues, and cause chaos in their lives. Preventive measures should be taken to protect computer systems from getting infected by keyloggers, and to protect sensitive information from getting stolen by cyber-criminals.