Protect Yourself Against This Popular Hack: Hardware Keyloggers


Introduction: 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?

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

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

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

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.



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    91 Discussions

    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?

    19 replies

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    "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.

    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.

    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.

    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...

    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.

    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?

    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.