How to detect and remove keyloggers
Have you noticed that your mouse cursor or keyboard input is lagging? Or perhaps your device performance decreased or you found unidentified applications on your device? These are symptoms of a device that may be infected with keyloggers.
This type of spyware is used to steal sensitive information, including banking details or accounts. It can lead to financial losses, scams, or even cyberstalking.
This article will provide you with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to detect a keylogger and remove it using a few different methods.
What is a keylogger?
Keyloggers are malicious software that records what you’re typing on your keyboard. It’s a type of spyware that’s used to steal sensitive information, such as passwords and banking details.
There are two types of keyloggers – hardware and software. The hardware devices are keyloggers that are attached to your device’s hardware. In order to infect your device this way, the malicious actor would have to do it physically.
A more common type of keylogger is software. It can be installed on another user’s device as a consequence of phishing or social engineering. However, it’s hard to detect considering it doesn’t interfere with your activities. It simply logs your keystrokes in silence.
Once your device is infected, keyloggers can steal your most private information or accounts, even banking details. Therefore, it’s best to use a high-quality antivirus and remove it as soon as possible.
|Operating system||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Symptoms||Decreased device performance, unknown applications, lagging keystrokes or mouse cursor|
|Damage||Stolen personal data, such as bank accounts or passwords|
How to detect a keylogger
The purpose of keyloggers is to silently steal your private data and accounts, which is why it can be more difficult to notice. However, there are a few ways to detect a keylogger.
Step 1: Check your Task Manager
The Task Manager is a quick way for you to see what’s running on your device in the background. You can follow these instructions to check your Task Manager:
Go to the Task Manager on your device
Check what processes are running on your device. If you see anything suspicious, you can use Google to find out more about it. For unauthorized processes, click the End task button.
Click on the Startup tab. It will show you what programs start running when you turn on your device.
If you’re not sure about a specific app, look it up on Google. Disable any suspicious startup programs.
Step 2: Find unrecognized applications on your device
If you don’t remember downloading a particular app, it might be malware in disguise. If you also notice that your device is slower or you’re experiencing keyboard lagging, removing suspicious apps can help.
Review the Programs section in your Control Panel to find all of your applications. If you’re having doubts about specific programs, you can look it up on Google to identify unauthorized ones.
Step 3: Check for any other malware on your device
Keyloggers don’t usually come alone. If you’ve noticed other types of malicious activities on your device, you may also be dealing with a keylogger on top of it.
Step 4: Run an antivirus scan
The quickest way to detect keyloggers is to use an antivirus, such as TotalAV. Since unauthorized apps can be hard to find, scanning the whole device system helps ensure that all of the hidden files are found and quarantined.
How to remove a keylogger
If you’ve noticed that your device is infected with a keylogger, there are a few different ways to remove it.
Run a full antivirus scan
The fastest and most effective way to remove keyloggers is to use an anti-malware tool. This way, even if your device is infected with another threat – the antivirus will remove it all. Here’s how to do it:
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Download the app and follow the installation instructions
- Run a full scan
- Remove the found malicious files or software
Remove suspicious apps or extensions
It’s not difficult to identify suspicious apps. All you have to do is review your application list and see if there’s anything you don’t remember installing. Even the name of the application could give away the unauthorized file – it may include such words as a spy, tracker, key log, or other.
If you encounter such applications, simply remove them. You can do it by following these steps:
Go to the Control Panel of your device
Under Programs, click Uninstall a program
Find the suspicious program, right-click on it, and press Uninstall
If you’re having trouble removing it, go to the Task Manager and force quit the selected app by clicking End task
Reset browser settings
Keyloggers can sometimes modify your browser, so it’s best to restore the settings to default. The process might slightly differ based on your browser, but here’s a simple way to reset browser settings:
At the top right corner of the browser, click on the three dots (the burger menu). Select Settings
On the left side of the window, find the Reset option (can be named Reset browser settings, Reset browser, or Reset settings) and click on it
Reset browser settings
That’s it – your browser is back to default settings
Clear temporary files
It’s common for malicious actors to place threats in the temporary files folder. It’s no different for keyloggers. So it’s better to be safe than sorry and wipe the folder clean. Here’s how to do it:
Go to your device’s Settings
Navigate to Storage
Find the Temporary files folder and click on it
- Choose the files you want to remove. You can leave out Delivery Optimization Files
Temporary files are now deleted
Factory reset the PC
If nothing seems to help, you can reset your device as a last resort. This will delete all of the existing data, making your device fresh and malware-free. However, it’s best that you have a backup of your files. Just make sure you don’t accidentally place the malware back on your device when restoring from backup.
Here’s how to do a factory reset on your device:
Navigate to Settings, then click on Update & Security
Click on the Recovery tab
- Find the Reset this PC option and follow the instructions
Restore your files from the backup and that’s all
Why are keyloggers dangerous?
Keyloggers are hard to detect as they don’t do direct damage to your device. But they can steal your data by simply logging your keystrokes. So here’s why keyloggers are dangerous:
- Malicious actors can gain access to your banking details and take your money, causing huge financial damage
- Keyloggers can get ahold of your login credentials and get into your accounts
- Hackers can scam people using your personal accounts
- Keylogging allows cyberstalking against victims and finding out particular location or other private information
- Malicious actors can compromise your work tool login credentials and get access to confidential information
- Keyloggers can damage reputation of companies and cause data breaches
How to avoid keyloggers
While even seasoned malware experts can’t always notice threats sneaking into a device, it’s always useful to take necessary precautions. Here are a few ways how you can prevent keyloggers:
- Avoid downloading apps from unknown sources. Always check what you’re downloading and whether the site is reliable.
- Always update your operating system and applications. Systems and apps get updated to patch any found vulnerabilities. If you don’t do that, you may leave hackers with a door to exploit.
- Avoid clicking suspicious links. Whether it’s in an email or a website, never click links that you don’t know the origin of. They may be infiltrated with malicious content, and you may not even know it.
- Remove apps that you don’t use or update. Old applications that aren’t updated for a long time may have vulnerabilities, opening a path for malicious threats.
- Download an antivirus and perform regular scans. Many antiviruses, such as TotalAV, come with real-time protection, but you should also perform regular system scans. This way, even the most advanced threats will be stopped in no time.
If you’ve noticed that your mouse cursor or keyboard is lagging behind, it may be that your device is infected with a keylogger. This can also be followed by decreased device performance and high CPU.
Our top suggestion for fast keylogger removal is TotalAV. It ensures 100% malware detection rates and isn’t rough on your system resources.
Other ways to remove keyloggers from your system are to detect and uninstall suspicious programs, delete temporary files, or reset browser settings. If nothing seems to work, you can do a complete factory reset (remember to back up your files first).
How does a keylogger get on my computer?
There are quite a few ways a keylogger can get into your device, including phishing or social engineering. It can be an app or file that looks legitimate but you don’t remember downloading or a suspicious link you found on a website or in an email. You can even accidentally download a keylogger while torrenting.
Does resetting the PC remove keyloggers?
Yes, doing a factory reset on your PC can help remove keyloggers. However, you should opt to remove all files as well as use a backup that’s malware-free.
What antivirus can detect keyloggers?
There are many antivirus programs that can detect keyloggers. Our top recommendation is TotalAV. It’s approved by independent laboratories, guarantees 100% malware detection rates, and ensures fast and smooth keylogger removal. However, Bitdefender or Norton can do the job just as well.