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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Keylogging: Identity Theft Threat or Useful Tool for Employers?

New Web and mobile technologies have provided more convenience for consumers who want to email, conduct banking transactions or make purchases in the comfort of their homes or while on the go.

Along with the added convenience, however, come growing identity theft and fraud threats. Identity thieves continue to set their sights on Internet scams, many of which can affect millions of individuals in one fell swoop. And, interestingly enough, one of the most dangerous types of malicious programs used by thieves is also one that is used by a number of employers. It's called a "keylogger".

Understanding how these types of programs work and why they are used may help you better understand ways to help keep you credit reports and scores safe and protected.

What Is a Keylogger?

Keylogger is a term used to describe a program or device that secretly records all of 'thekeystrokes you make on your computer. By using a keylogger, cyber thieves can gain access to 'your most commonly typed phrases and words, allowing them to look for repeating patterns; these recurring phrases are often usernames and passwords to your various Web accounts. Keyloggers may also help thieves learn 'your Social Security number and bank account details. As you might imagine, obtaining this private information may allow a hacker to commit identity theft and wreak havoc on a 'your credit reports and scores.

Keyloggers Aren't Just Used by Thieves

These programs and devices are highly controversial because thieves are not the only individuals who use them. In some cases, employers will install keylogging software onto their corporate systems, which allows them to monitor their workers' computer habits. This approach is taken not to steal 'their employees' identity, but to ensure employee's are behaving responsibly online and working efficiently while in the office. Similarly, parents may put a keylogger on their child's computer to monitor his or her Internet behavior.

How Keyloggers Spread

Unlike many other types of malware, keyloggers typically don't cause any damage or issues to your computer, which makes it more difficult for you to discover that your system is infected. However, similar to many malicious programs, keyloggers often wind up on 'your computer simply because, at some point, you used poor judgment while using the Internet.

So keep these ideas in mind when surfing the Web to help reduce your risk of key loggers and identity theft.

  1. Install the latest antivirus and fraud protection securities onto your computer system, and make sure spyware and virus definitions remain up to date.
  2. Do not open attachments or links in an email you receive unless you have verified the credibility of the sender.
  3. Be wary of any website that requires you to download an update or add-on in order to view the page properly. Identity thieves will often prompt you to view a video or listen to music online by upgrading a browser application — keyloggers are often hidden in these programs.

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