Find out who’s doing what on your computer

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

Are your kids visiting sites you disapprove of, or is your schnauzer making unauthorized purchases of doggie biscuits on eBay?

To answer these and other questions about the activity on your PC, keyloggers provide a silent way of monitoring and capturing information about a computer’s use.

Keylogger programs sit quietly and invisibly in the background of the system you install them on. The software records all the keystrokes — and, in some cases, mouse clicks — users make. They also monitor the programs those keys are typed into, along with other information about the machine’s activity. Table 1 shows the most important features and which programs support them.

Table 1. Keyloggers vary in crucial features. (• = yes)

Feature Perfect
Keylogger
Lite

Perfect
Keylogger

Keylogger
Pro

Keylogger
Spy
Monitor

Silent
Logger

Displays a warning to the PC’s users
 — 


 — 

Monitors specific Windows user accounts
 — 
 — 

 — 
 — 
Disables Windows features
 — 
 — 

 — 
 — 
Captures screenshots automatically
 — 


 — 

Records IM chats
 — 


 — 

Compresses and password-protects e-mailed logs
 — 




Deletes logs after mailing
 — 
 — 


 — 
Uploads logs to ftp servers
 — 

 — 

 — 
Excludes system keys from logs
 — 


 — 
 — 
Encrypts logs


 — 
 — 
 — 
Sends alerts when specified words are used
 — 

 — 
 — 
 — 
Offers built-in scheduling
 — 
 — 


 — 
Sets processor priority
 — 
 — 

 — 
 — 

All the keyloggers I examined (except Keylogger Spy Monitor and the free version of Perfect Keylogger) let you capture screens at designated intervals. This means you can see whatever the user was seeing on the screen at that moment.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-10-09: