Introduction: Protect Yourself Against This Popular Hack: Hardware Keyloggers

Picture of Protect Yourself Against This Popular Hack: Hardware Keyloggers
This instructable shows you how to use a hardware (PS/2) keylogger and explains its basic functionality.

From Wikipedia:

Hardware Keyloggers plug in between a computer keyboard and a computer and log all keyboard activity on an internal memory.They are designed to work with PS/2 keyboards, and more recentlywith USB keyboards.Hardware keyloggers have an advantage over software keyloggersas they begin logging from the moment a computer is turned on (and are therefore able to collect a BIOS password for instance), and do not require software installation (unlike software solutions).

Step 1: How Do They Work?

Picture of How Do They Work?
Also from Wikipedia:

All hardware keyloggers have to have the following:    * A microcontroller - this interprets the datastream between the keyboardand computer, processes it, and passes it to the non-volatile memory    * A non-volatile memory device, such as Flash - this stores the recorded data, even when power is lost

The recorded data is retrieved by typing a special password into a computer text editor and then hitting "Enter". As the hardware keylogger is plugged in-between the keyboard and computer, it detects the password has been typed and then starts presenting the computer with "typed" data to produce a menu. Beyond text menu some keyloggers offer a high-speed download to speed up retrieval of stored data, this can be via USB mass-storage enumeration or with a USB or serial download adapter.

Hardware keyloggers are usually black in colour and measure about 5cm in length. They are slightly thicker than the average cigarette. They commonly have storage capacity ranging from 64K to 4MB. A 256K model can record about 128 pages of text. Hardware keyloggers also come in USB models, although these are considerably more expensive.

Step 2: Hardware Keylogger (Keyshark) in Action

Picture of Hardware Keylogger (Keyshark) in Action

There are many manufacturers of hardware keyloggers. The one presented in this instructable is a 2MB Keyshark, which cost about US$60. The best place to find them is on ebay, as many sites re-sell them for much more than they are worth. Just use Google to have a look, and you will find the same keylogger ranging from $60 to $90. Here's how to use a Keylogger:

1. Make sure the Keylogger has been set up correctly, i.e. you have set the password and have put it in "Recording Mode".
2. Unplug the victim keyboard
3. Plug the keyboard into the keylogger
4. Plug the combined keylogger and keyboard into the PC PS/2 slot
5. Pray no one sees it

Once the keylogger is plugged in, it will begin recording all keystrokes, even ones entered before the PC is in windows or whatever OS you use.

Step 3: Accessing the Data

Picture of Accessing the Data

The most impressive aspect of Hardware keyloggers lies in their programming. To access your data, simply open a text editor (Notepad or Mousepad in linux ;-p) and type your password. Then hit enter. This prompts the keylogger to create a text menu (shown below).

From the menu, you can change your default password, access the recorded data, erase the memory, enable or disable recording and adjust the menu speed.

You can access the stored data by pressing 1. The menu continues, and asks which sector of the keylogger you wish to access. Pressing w will make the keylogger 'type out' all the recorded data into the notepad file. Watch the video to get a better idea of how this works.

Step 4: Conclusion

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Hardware keyloggers are neat devices, however, in the wrong hands they can be used for harmful purposes. Most countries have laws which prohibit spying on people who are unaware that they are being monitored, so please don't use hardware keyloggers to get yourself into trouble. This instructable was meant to illustrate they ease with which people can plug these into a PC, so think twice before entering vital information on a computer other than your own.


mrmath (author)2007-09-04

I've been looking for a software version of one of these for my kids computer for a long time. Anyone know of any that are free/open source for Windows?

jasonkaven (author)mrmath2014-12-30

Micro Keylogger is a good keylogger software for Windows XP, 7, 8 that works well to watch and control kids' activities when they use the computer.

bleachworthy (author)mrmath2007-09-04

though I am against the cause of spying on people, it is necessary to spy on kids, for thier safety, so here you go, a page of free keyloggers click here
have fun, and be sneaky about it. if I were being spied on as a kid and found out, I'd take drastic measures.

mrmath (author)bleachworthy2007-09-04

Thanks for the link! My kids are 9, 8 and going on 7, so it's not really too big of a deal now. I told them, however, when they got hooked up to the Internet, that everything they do, every email they send, everything they type, is subject to review by me. They are to have no expectation of privacy on their computer. I also told them I won't spy on them just because I can, but because I want to protect them.

If they don't like it, they don't get to go on the Internet. It's that simple for me. Of course, it will get MUCH less when they get older, and savvy enough to get past the proxy/content filter I use.

mrmath (author)mrmath2014-01-08

Someone replied to this instructable, so I ended up coming back to it. For the record, my kids are now 15, 14, and 13, and the filtering has been turned off. They know that I can still review their surfing habits at any time, but if they erase their browser history, or browse incognito, there's nothing I can do about it. So, they are pretty much free to use the Internet.

viper20095 (author)mrmath2008-02-28

about the children privacy issue. I don't believe the constant "monitoring" is necessary on children if you trust your own child. I am 16, and have had total access to everything and anything I want. I have my own computer, nothing monitored, and yet, I have never touched drugs, cigarettes, even alcohol. I am allowed to play the video games I want, whatever the rating, and I don't go out and shoot up my school. Because I know the difference between the internet and the real world. I don't see the benefit in monitoring a "smart" child, so to speak. If you know your child well enough, that's better than any spying could ever do, because you have a strong bond with your child, and you know and trust each other. If your kid is smart enough to not do anything stupid, leave them be. I am a good kid because I respect my parents for trusting me with being able to do anything. They honestly say it's OK to drink, etc. But, I don't because I respect their trust for me.

mrmath (author)viper200952008-02-29

As I've said before, it's not a matter of trusting the kids. It's a matter of trusting the person they are in contact with. No one knows if that person really is a kid their age, or if it's an adult, posing as a kid. Think about it like a smoke detector. Your parents trust you not to play with matches, but they still have smoke detectors in your house. Not because they think you'll start a fire, but because they know fire is a risk, and they want to protect you from that risk. You may have nothing to do with the fire being started, but if one does break out... My kids know that I trust them, and that I'm doing this for their protection. That trust goes both ways. I trust them not to do anything they shouldn't, and they trust me not to go looking into thier emails/web browsing/what not unless there is a need for it. There is no camera spying on them in my smoke detector making sure they aren't playing with matches.

ivaneduardo747 (author)mrmath2010-05-15

Good point.

hcold (author)mrmath2009-02-06

"Think of it as a fire alarm." Yeah, one that uses a camera instead of a detector, and has a person monitoring the camera 24/7.

cyrozap (author)viper200952009-03-21

Same. I'm in High School, too. I totally agree with you.

tanda333 (author)mrmath2007-11-11

at about the age of 12-13 you wont be able to keep your kids outta anything. the fact of the matter is that the information to do so is so vast and so availiable that they can easily bypass what you do. when school computer networks fail to stop children from visiting games sites and pornograqphic sites, what makes you think that you can do it yourself? the only solution is to teach them how to use the net responsibly, instead of trying to constantly shield them from it, as they will allways bypass these shields.

duct tape (author)bleachworthy2011-05-05

So kids aren't people?

seorsa (author)duct tape2014-01-08

I have tried to avoid that term in my comments unless referring to my kids. I was typing and thought, wait a minute calling them kids is part of they problem. They are real people in real relationships, and should have the same rights we all expect.

Crafty123 (author)bleachworthy2009-01-18

How would anyone get past those??

bleachworthy (author)Crafty1232009-01-18

be smart, read what processes are running (ctrl+alt+delete) and turn off the keylogger if it's software based. and if it's hardware based just remove it I suppose...

Unless someone glues the keylogger into your computer.

cyrozap (author)Crafty1232009-03-21

Windows Task Manager. I'm in high school. Be smart about using software, we kids are a lot smarter than you think. I built my computer and installed Windows AND Linux on it. People don't usually think about hardware keyloggers, though. Big Brother is watching you.

Crafty123 (author)cyrozap2009-03-29

I'm only in middle school trying to find my way with computers, but how do you build a computer??, have you made an Instructable on it?

cyrozap (author)Crafty1232009-04-04

I have not made an instructable on it, but if you look around you should be able to find something. I buy my parts from All you really have to know is how to put the parts together in order and how not to break anything.

Crafty123 (author)cyrozap2009-04-06


callmeshane (author)mrmath2007-11-17

HMmmm I come from a long line of really screwed up psycopaths.... and the worst ones were not the whores and junkies and crims... the worst ones were the normies, the regular people, with regular jobs and regular marriages... They were all bonafide "sickos', but they were into image management and looking "fine".... And they were much like the rest of society...... I came to see that this joke I created had much relevance: "Q. What's the difference between a lying, scheming, thieving junkie and a respectable citizen? A. The respectable citizen doesn't do drugs". So on one hand I can commend you for recording all these things... the parental responsibility and being there to make sure that thinks are A-OK like a good manager ought to be doing.... instead of being a negligent and irresponsible parent like so many just are... And yet I also feel that it's feeding into the fear, suspicion and neurosis that American pop culture likes to spread.... I also feel that the whole concept of keylogging is a rather creepy idea, kind of like parents who insist on making their kids keep the toilet and bedroom doors open when they get undressed or go to the toilet. Personally I feel that having a good open and up front conversation with the establishment of a few basic rules.... along the lines of appropriate exchanges of information online etc.. and to ask them to bring anything to you, that they feel is suspicious.. or queer... including the service, chat room, time, date, and user name.... etc. jotted down on a piece of paper, with screen shots or printouts... Personally I feel that having healthy relationships begins with self and dealing with ones own neurotic tendencies, rather than seeking ones own sanity through the imposition of and conformity to them, by others.

seorsa (author)callmeshane2014-01-08

SO true in so many ways. Children of psychotic parents are often highly creative and have a well developed intellect. Both my children are super smart and very creative, so I should know

cyrozap (author)callmeshane2009-03-21

In soviet America, PARENT watches YOU!

Kwitmeh3 (author)cyrozap2010-02-26


bwpatton1 (author)cyrozap2009-05-15

Actually it is socialist america and everything you do is being watched!!

fwjs28 (author)bwpatton12009-07-10

actually everything you watch is being done

Kwitmeh3 (author)mrmath2010-02-26

if your still looking..............

mrmath (author)Kwitmeh32010-02-26

I never got around to installing the one I found, actually.

Kwitmeh3 (author)mrmath2010-02-27


tomc3uk (author)mrmath2007-09-04

Dude, that's just plain spying. If you don't trust them, they'll never trust you.

mrmath (author)tomc3uk2007-09-04

It's not them I don't trust. It's all the freaks out there that I don't trust. I've told them that from the start. There are people out there who want to hurt kids, and I'm watching what you do to make sure they don't get to you. Besides, it's not spying if you tell them up front. Besides, it's kind of like what you can expect at any job that requires an Internet connection. Every company today monitors email and web traffic. Some will install keyloggers. It's just the way it is.

tomc3uk (author)mrmath2007-09-04

Yeah I see what you mean. I don't know why, but I assumed they were like teenagers. 9,8 and 7 year olds that's okay.

iKill (author)mrmath2007-09-04

good luck mate if you key log your kids and they find out, not only will they never forgive you, they will never trust you. if your planning on snooping around you might find something you didn't want. as for telling you how to get one JFGI!!!!

mrmath (author)iKill2007-09-04

I've already addressed the whole issue about them finding out. As for the JFGI, I did that, and it didn't provide me with a list of free ones. Mostly shareware/commercial.

seorsa (author)2014-01-08

I like this bold move. I hope it is done with humor and maturity beyond your parents. Start planning to move out as soon as you can, get a job and save your money.

linuxnewbie (author)2010-07-01

A few points- * For those who think that spying on their kid is okay - does this also mean that you'd approve of breaking into your child's diary? After all, they might be writing about someone you'd disapprove of. *If you throw your child off the internet entirely, they could just go down to the park and meet a freak their - after all, that's how creeps met kids before the internet. What are you gonna do? Tie a GPS to the child's shoe and wiretap their backpack? *Questions for those who think that their children have no right to privacy - 1. Doesn't that put YOUR child in the same ownership class as a dog or a slave? 2. Do you want to teach you child that only those in authority have rights, instead of everyone's rights. 3. Would you want your emails and websites screened by your child? After all, if you're such an innocent and good person, you'd never buy a surprise present for your child, watch "adult entertainment" (like the other 95 percent of web users) or complain about your boss/spouse/child/ to someone over IM, would you? Let's face hard facts - the only parent who's afraid of their child meeting the wrong adult online IS THE WRONG ADULT TO BE ONLINE IN THE FIRST PLACE. If you point your finger at someone, three more point back - and the fourth one's praying

croller1 (author)linuxnewbie2011-05-05

If you simply block websites there will always be ways around them to find. These routes can't be traced until you actually see them. If you watch what they do, you can question them about it and teach them about why it's bad to talk to strange people online and go to porn sites.
NOTE: I'm speaking for kids under 15. If your kid is 16 and up, they really kind've do need their privacy.

seorsa (author)croller12014-01-08

I think all young people need their privacy, bot just those who are 16 and up. You are right though, teaching people how to surf safely is important, and it can be done without spying etc. There are far greater dangers to young people than porn.

jumpup_dnb_dj (author)2012-04-23

Disgusting behaviour spying on kids. Indicates a total lack of trust. All fueled by the media and government BS that so many brainwashed members of society are now. Otherwise known as sheep. Leave kids alone. Let them become who they want to be. We are to be a free people.

Kids are growing up. Becoming smarter. Let's hope it's smarter in the senase they see past the lies of government. By installing these keyloggers, whether hard/software based, instills nothing but fear.

Leave them alone. TRUST them. Be open and talk to them. It's a violation of their rights. Yes. Children have rights.

seorsa (author)jumpup_dnb_dj2014-01-08

I sort of agree with you, but I am more extreme. Disrespecting personal boundaries is the hallmark of an unhealthy, maybe even an abusive, relationship. I think this type of thing contributes to young adults being involved in dysfunctional or abusive relationships. Once of my friends was concerned about her son because she thought he was approaching the age where he would be masturbating and she did not know what to do about it. I asked if he was 12, and when she said almost, I let her know he had been doing it for about 2 years at least. She was kind of horrified and I asked her if she noticed he goes through a lot more tube socks the last couple of years. Then the light went on. My advice was to be sure the bathroom door locked and to keep a victoria secrets catalog or two in with the other magazines.

Yes we need to respect our children rights, so that when they get in adult relationships they will know what is healthy and what is not.

seorsa (author)2014-01-08

I am definitely not a perfect parent, and I don't expect anyone else to be. From an early age we had as open and honest a relationship with our kids as we reasonably could. As a number of folks have stated, there is a need to ensure our children's safety. In reality, the odds of a child being harmed via the internet are relatively low, with the most likely harm being bullying. Have a healthy, open relationship, and building their self esteem and assertiveness skills will be much more important. Pretending you are not a freak might be a good idea too. By that I mean teaching them about appropriate relationship boundaries. Respecting privacy is a key factor in a healthy relationship. Key logging is not respecting privacy. Are you going to block access to porn? Kids are rarely harmed by porn, and even more rarely killed due to their involvement in porn. Your kids are more likely to be harmed by an STD, or killed/maimed in a vehicle accident related to speeding or alcohol, or both. Use your skills to build a wifi monitor and hook it up to your car's OBD port. Or better yet, have a healthy relationship where they know they can call if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

I went to a counselor once who said "Once your kids are 13, your done parenting. The only thing you can do is keep them safe, and you need to do every thing you can to keep them safe from the real dangers teenagers face" (vehicle accidents, STD's, abusive relationships, and unsafe drug and alcohol abuse). One thing we did was clear out a drawer in the living room and put condoms in it. We told them we would check it occasionally, but only to refill. They should feel free to tell all their friends, and we would keep it supplied no matter what. Since my kids went to Catholic school, I am sure their friends were blown away by this. Other people were so proud that their daughter had made a pledge and chosen to wear a chastity ring. Of course because of our open relationship with our kids we knew that the kids who made those pledges were the most sexually active in town. Lol!

One of the younger people in here stated something like "we are smarter than you think", and I would agree with that except for myself and my wife- we knew how smart kids were and respected them for that. I can still remember my teenage years, and it always seemed to me that the real dangers were in the situations were there was real or imagined peer pressure, such as your friend drove but they are too drunk to drive you home. Some people would not call their parents because they did not want their friend to get in trouble. Our kids had our word that they could call us at any time, for any reason, and we would get them home safe. Did my wife freak out when my son was tanked? Yes, but we still made sure he was OK. and once she calmed down things went according to plan.

mysterion (author)2012-04-28

Fairly old technology for a keyboard

linuxnewbie (author)2011-05-05

Look folks, all I'm saying is that before you resort to the drastic action of spying on your kids, give them the emotional armor they'll need to resist manipulation by unsavory people.  Ask yourself if your kid is capable of saying "No" to someone who tries to play games with their heads.  Has your kid ever dropped a friendship because the "friend" wanted do do something that wasn't right or ethical?  Then your kid is probably ready to surf the internet unsupervised.  If your kid can't say "no" in real life, DON'T put let them play on the 'puter at all - at least until they learn some life skills.
And if you want to teach them some skills to deal with criminals and manipulators, go to the library and check out "Gift of Fear."  Here's the wikipedia link
I'll also throw out this challenge to all the other parents out there- if you're sooo sure that your surfing is oh so innocent, keep a key logger on YOUR computer to show to your kids - after all, you're such a good person that you can serve as a saintly example.  :wink:

erikals (author)2011-02-24

i got one on my Dell Latitude d610's docking station once - found it when I did a preboot cable check. Pulled it out and destroyed it (the hardware keylogger). Knowing two parents who I nickname 'Catbert' for obvious reasons, it wasn't hard for me to guess whodunit.

superMacaroni (author)2010-07-18

Why not OpenDNS? OpenDNS BLOCKS your child from looking at porn sites rather than spying on them, looking at porn sites.

surajsingh942 (author)2010-06-08

Where can i buy to these poduct

junits15 (author)surajsingh9422010-06-30

ivaneduardo747 (author)2010-05-15

LOL ^Poor Guy

ReCreate (author)2009-12-01

It can also be implemented bios level, Now that would be bad.

crapflinger (author)2007-09-04

for everyone complaining about "spying" on your own kids and the possibility of this "ruining your relationship with your children"...get over it Kids these days are feeling this great sense of entitlement for all things...but especially towards privacy...sorry...they're your child...and it's YOUR responsibility to know what they're doing so that you can protect them.. snooping through your kids sock drawer looking for pot when you've got no evidence that they're doing drugs is one thing...but watching what they type in chat rooms to keep them safe from predators is wouldn't let your 10 year old go to a 17 year old's high school party unsupervised...why would you let your child go online where there are guaranteed to be adults and other things that you as the parent don't approve of? it's time for parents to take back their authority over their children...losing control of your child today only makes their life harder tomorrow when they reach adulthood and aren't adequately prepared for dealing with authority

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