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by Ray Carlson

Q: After the recent publicity about high school students using a keylogger to learn their teachers' passwords, my divorce attorney emailed me a warning that my husband might be using a keylogger to access my emails about our upcoming divorce proceedings. How can I tell if that is happening?

A: A keylogger records everything that is typed into a computer. A hardware keylogger can be attached to the keyboard cable. A software keylogger can be copied into a computer's memory from a USB drive, or received like a virus through an attachment to email or from a hidden program on a website. Often, the software includes a program to email the information collected to someone who will analyze the data. In addition to the purpose you mentioned, keyloggers have been used by parents to monitor their children's online behavior, employers looking for inappropriate use of work-place computers, the police and anti-terrorist units looking for suspicious behavior as well as criminals looking for financial information.

Keyloggers are designed to be subtle and hard to detect. The hardware type is usually a small cylinder placed where the keyboard cable attaches to the computer. You can follow the cable from the keyboard to check if such a device is present. Often a good anti-virus program will recognize the software ones and alert you to their presence. In addition, there are specific anti-keyloggers that can be downloaded for free. See this website for a list with descriptions and places to get the software.

This discussion only highlights a few basic ideas about keyloggers and anti-keyloggers. To provide more detail, the Prescott Computer Society will devote a major part of its meeting on July 20 in the Prescott Library at 1 p.m. to a non-technical discussion of this topic including other ways to see if a keylogger is on your computer and additional anti-keylogger software.

Published: Courier 6/16/13 - Page 3C