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Keyloggers on the increase

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Wednesday March 15, 2006 )

Keyloggers are particularly nasty software applications that record every keystroke a person makes and then transmits that data to another party. You won’t catch these emails in your outbox or sent items folder as an smtp mailer is usually embedded in the application that operates independently from your email software.

In recent years, keylogger applications have extended their feature set to store extra information, such as screenshots set at x interval. I’ve seen first hand the data that they collect and it’s quite frightening. It’s not just a jumbled pile of text, items such as the URL the person is visiting at the time are also included in order to make the connection between keystrokes and the activity more apparent.

While keyloggers do have valid application in law enforcement, workplace and child monitoring, they are quite often implemented without the users’ knowledge to serve darker purposes. Illegitmately installed keyloggers have transmitted the sensitive data of millions of Internet users over the years at an average cost to the user of nearly $4k in each instance where a loss is sustained.

According to an article published by iDefense late last year, the number of keyloggers over the past 5 years has exploded and looks to continue to increase dramatically. In 2000, there were several hundred keylogger applications “in the wild”, by 2003, this had grown to 1,230 – the projection for up until the end of 2005 was for over 6,000.

How do keyloggers wind up on your system? Much the same way as viruses, but also IRC (a chat protocol) is also a favorite entry point for hackers looking for unsecured systems. They can also be installed by third parties who have direct access to the computer and who know enough to get around any AV monitoring and firewalls installed on the computer.

You can imagine the havoc that illegitimately installed keyloggers can wreak on an online business – totally ruin it very, very quickly; so it’s an issue to be very aware of.

Read the iDefense keylogging article

Learn more about how viruses end up in your mailbox

Pick up some anti-hacking tips for home based online business


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