Sniff out ‘keyloggers’ before it’s tax time - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Sniff out ‘keyloggers’ before it’s tax time

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at Readers may send questions to

Related Stories

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013 12:49 pm

Question: Is there an easy way to see if I have a hidden keylogger on my Windows 7 computer before I start doing my taxes? — Don

Answer: Tax season is what we refer to as “Christmas for Hackers” because they know that lots of us will be typing very sensitive information on our computers to prepare our returns.

There are a number of threats that can compromise your computer, but few are as disconcerting as a keylogger.

If a malicious keylogger can sneak its way into your computer, it sits silently in the background recording every keystroke you make and can send the daily “transcript” to a remote hacker.

Grabbing your valuable data, such as bank credentials, Social Security numbers and email passwords takes seconds with an automated script.

Keyloggers tend to be fairly sophisticated programs that can masquerade as typical operating system processes, so detecting them can be a little tricky.

A sign that you should have your computer looked at by a knowledgeable person starts with how long it takes your computer to start up. If it’s substantially longer than when it was new, you likely have extra processes running that could include malware.

A quick self-check can be run by opening the Windows Task Manager (right-click on the “Taskbar” at the bottom to start it) when you first turn your computer on and reviewing the number of processes running.

A well maintained computer will have between 40-50 processes running. If the number is 60-, 70- or 80-plus, for a variety of reasons, you should have your computer looked at soon.

Not only will it uncover any potentially hazardous malware, your computer will run significantly better without the extra load.

While you have the Task Manager open, click on the “Processes” tab and click on the “Image Name” column header to sort the processes alphabetically. Scroll down towards the bottom and look for the “winlogon.exe” process.

There should only be one, so if you see more than one instance of winlogon.exe you should stop using your computer immediately and have it examined.

Unfortunately, many of today’s keyloggers are written to hide from this quick check, so just because you don’t see more than one instance of winlogon.exe, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a keylogger installed.

Another indication that you should be concerned is if your CPU usage meter (click on the “Performance” tab) is showing a lot of activity even though you just started your computer and you haven’t opened any programs yet.

Your CPU should be idling in the 2-3 percent range with no programs (other than “Task Manager”) open.

While you are reviewing the performance charts, take a look at the physical memory usage to see if you need more memory (RAM). If the blue line in the “Usage History” is half way up or higher, adding more RAM should provide you with a noticeable improvement in speed.

• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Jan Brewer Insults EVERY American POW While Defending Draft Dodging Trump

Prisoners of war are routinely subjected to torture. One form of torture that is regularly used is waterboarding, which is a horrific simulati…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 5:51 pm @…

Here’s what voter fraud looks like in 23 states

Print Here�s What Voter Fraud Looks Like In 23 States By Justin Caruso Reprinted with permission of the Daily Caller News Foundation Republica…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 4:50 pm @…

Trump receives his first major newspaper endorsement, and he has Sheldon Adelson to thank

The Las Vegas Review-Journal became the first major newspaper to endorse Donald Trump for president this election season, stating that, while …

Published: October 23, 2016 - 4:20 pm @…

Polls: Arizona, Florida not smitten with Trump's wall

Pluralities in Arizona and the battleground state of Florida believe Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is "…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 4:00 pm @…

Looking past Trump, Clinton aims to help other Democrats

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Newly confident and buoyant in the polls, Hillary Clinton is looking past Donald Trump while widening her mission to inclu…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 3:50 pm @

How Would AI Cover an AI Conference?

I wish I had an artificial-intelligence slave. I mean, assistant. A digital avatar--call it MY AI--that knows (“knows”?) how I think and write…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 3:43 pm @…

New Podesta Email Exposes Dem Playbook For Rigging Polls Through "Oversamples"

by Tyler Durden Oct 23, 2016 5:50 PM Earlier this morning we wrote about the obvious sampling bias in the latest ABC / Washington Post poll th…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 3:13 pm @…

The Clinton Camp Thinks Native American Voters Could Make The Difference In Arizona

If Hillary Clinton pulls off a victory in Arizona next month, Democrats believe it will be due in part to one of the red state’s key voting bl…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 2:59 pm @…

Donald Trump's Border Wall Falling Flat In Arizona

By Luciana Lopez and Chris Kahn NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump rode to the top of the Republican ticket promising a “big, beautiful, powerf…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 2:29 pm @…

NOW HIRING: Apple, several Valley companies looking for workers, seasonal help wanted

Apple Apple's data center in Mesa is hiring professionals to install and service servers, storage systems, and network equipment. There are op…

Published: October 23, 2016 - 2:29 pm @…

Facebook on Facebook

Twitter on Twitter


Subscribe to via RSS

RSS Feeds


Most Popular

Online poll