Key Loggers

Written by Charles Peacock
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Key loggers are a dangerous and surprisingly simply type of program that can steal your personal information and spy on your habits without you even knowing it. Key loggers can be employed unwittingly through viruses or spyware programs, but they also have a legitimate use. Corporate security specialists and detectives can use them to keep track of what people are doing with their computers.

How Key Loggers Work

Key loggers are designed to run the entire time your computer is on. Unless you're relatively computer-savvy, you might have no idea they're even installed. But as you type and browse the Internet, key logging programs keep a record of everything you type and every move you make. They store this information in a log file that is usually very well hidden.

Once the log file has been created, it can either be retrieved manually or sent to a remote location using the Internet. In the former case, a detective can go in and grab this file, then examine it on another computer to see exactly what's been happening on the computer in question. In the latter case, a hacker can automatically have the log file downloaded to his computer for his own perusal.

Since key loggers log literally every key stroke, they can allow someone to gather quite a bit of information. Everything from personal emails to usernames and passwords will be recorded and can be looked at later. For this reason, key logging programs simultaneously make very effective investigative tools and very dangerous hacking tools.

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