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Keyloggers Set New Record

Newsfactor (opens in new tab) reports that keylogging malware is on the way to setting a record in 2005, with 6,191 keyloggers unleashed, according to a study released this week by VeriSign iDefense. The number represents a 65 percent increase from the 3,753 keyloggers documented in 2004 and an astronomical increase over the 300 attacks recorded in 2000.

As with most malware, keyloggers are stealthily deployed, silently installed programs that can record every keystroke on infected systems and send the information back to hackers. The spyware is the preferred tool of criminal Internet groups. These cybercrime syndicates package the keystroke programs in phishing e-mail or spyware applications that are able to elude antivirus software and firewalls.

Once a keylogging program is in place, thieves receive strings of text entered while the computer user is online, such as addresses, account numbers, usernames, and passwords. Using their ill-gotten information, hackers have been able to steal a great deal of money from those targeted.

While the study found that only 16 percent of victims were required to pay for some of the fraudulent charges -- which averaged $4,000 per victim -- the greatest cost was in time. According to the study, victims spent an average of 81 hours trying to rectify the problem.