Best Keystroke Encryption Software to Protect Against Keyloggers

New malware is being created and released into the wild everyday, and it’s a fact that your antivirus software does not protect you 100% from everything. Sometimes it may take a few days for the antivirus analysts to get hold of the sample which will then be added to the latest virus definition. Within this time frame of unknowingly being infected by a new computer virus, probably all your sensitive information such as passwords, are already being stolen through a keylogger and the damage has been done.

A keylogger is a common feature found in most Remote Access Trojans (RAT). When either the offline or online keylogger mode is activated, anything that you type on the keyboard will be recorded and logged to a file or transferred instantly to the controller. The purpose of a keylogger is to steal the login credentials or probably to know who the user is talking to on the Internet. Whatever the reasons are, keylogging is an invasion of privacy and is against the law in some countries.

When an antivirus fails to detect the threat, a very effective extra layer of defense to keep your sensitive information safe is through keystroke encryption. Basically a keystroke encryption software works in a very deep level of the Windows operating system kernel to prevent the keyloggers from logging the real keystrokes, either completely blocking them or sending garbage text. Currently there are 4 pieces of keystroke encryption software available today. We’ve tested them against 13 different keyloggers and compared the features offered by these applications. The tested keystroke encryption software is listed below. If you prefer to jump straight to the performed tests and the verdict for the best software we tested, they can be found on page 2.

1. GuardedID Premium 3.01.1060

GuardedID

Price: USD 29.99 for 1 year, 2PC
Encryption Method: Replaces logged keystrokes with sequential numbers
Password Protection: None
Additional Protection: Block Screen loggers by sending black screenshots. Will also do the same for legitimate screenshot software.
Supported Operating System: Win 2003/XP/Vista/7/8 32-bit only
Supported Applications: Limited and unspecified

Visit GuardedID Website


2. Zemana AntiLogger Free 1.5.2.652

Zemana AntiLogger Free

Price: Free
Encryption Method: Blank output. Only the application with keyboard focus receives the keystrokes while others are blocked.
Password Protection: None
Additional Protection: None
Supported Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7/8 32 & 64-bit
Supported Applications: All

Visit Zemana AntiLogger Free Website


3. KeyScrambler Premium 2.9.3.0

KeyScrambler

Price: Free (Personal), $29.99 (Professional), $44.99 (Premium)
Encryption Method: Blowfish (128-bit) and RSA (1024-bit). Output random characters.
Password Protection: None
Additional Protection: None
Supported Operating System: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/7/8 32 & 64-bit
Supported Applications: Limited and published

Visit KeyScrambler Website


4. NextGen AntiKeylogger 3.3.0.1

NextGen AntiKeylogger

Price: Free, $25 (Pro), $39 (Ultimate)
Encryption Method: Unknown but replaces logged keystrokes with random characters.
Password Protection: Yes
Additional Protection: None
Supported Operating System: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/7 32-bit only
Supported Applications: Limited and published. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the protected applications list.

Visit NextGen AntiKeylogger Website

Performing Some Basic Tests

In this series of basic tests, we will attempt to tamper with the application by terminating its process to see if the protection is still active, and uninstall silently without the user noticing it. The UpperFilter registry key for the keyboard will also be deleted to determine if they are able to detect and recover automatically. Finally, the memory and CPU usage are also measured to see how heavy they are on system resources.

1. GuardedID Premium 3.01.1060

Process Termination: FAILED
Silent Uninstall: YES. Can be silently uninstalled using this command line “msiexec.exe /x ({ID} /q”. The ID can be found in the registry HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall.
Delete UpperFilters: FAILED. Keyboard stops working.
Memory Usage: Starts at 1.8MB and increases a bit on every keystroke
CPU Usage: NONE

2. Zemana AntiLogger Free 1.5.2.652

Process Termination: PASS. Protection is still active when the process is terminated.
Silent Uninstall: YES. Installer uses Inno Setup and can be silently uninstalled with the command line “unins000.exe /VERYSILENT”
Delete UpperFilters: FAILED. Keyboard stops working. Program detects the problem when Windows is booted up and offers to automatically repair by rebooting the computer. Failed to auto repair even when logged in as an administrator with UAC turned off.

AntiLogger Reboot Required

Memory Usage: 14MB
CPU Usage: NONE

3. KeyScrambler Premium 2.9.3.0

Process Termination: FAILED
Silent Uninstall: YES. KeyScrambler installer uses Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) and supports the silent uninstall switch /S.
Delete UpperFilters: Keyboard stops working.
Memory Usage: 1.5MB
CPU Usage: NONE

4. NextGen AntiKeylogger 3.3.0.1

Process Termination: FAILED. Has an option to keep protection active when process is terminated but didn’t work for us.
Silent Uninstall: YES with the command line parameter /VERYSILENT (uses Inno Setup) but not fully automated because it prompts a survey window that cannot be suppressed. Do take note that the uninstaller does not prompt for password when the program is protected with a password.
Delete UpperFilters: Keyboard stops working and notifies about a failure in connecting to driver with an advice to restart your computer or reinstall.
Memory Usage: 3.7MB
CPU Usage: NONE


Running a Keylogger Test

We tested the keystroke encryption software with a total of 13 well known keyloggers that are widely being used today. 5 of them are Remote Administration Trojans (RAT) with keylogging functionality and the remaining 8 are pure keylogging programs where 3 of them; Elite Keylogger, Invisible Keylogger Stealth & Keylogger Pro 2012 use low level keyboard hooking. The tests were ran on a clean Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit by installing or activating the keylogger and typing a few sentences. The log files from the keyloggers were then reviewed to see if it managed to capture the real text or not.

Antikeylogger test

As you can see from the results above, only Zemana AntiLogger Free and KeyScrambler Premium passed all 13 tests by preventing the keyloggers to record the text that was typed from the keyboard.


The Verdict

Without a doubt that the new comer Zemana AntiLogger Free emerges as the best keystroke encryption today followed by KeyScrambler. The “free” price tag on Zemana easily beats the rest because it protects all applications unlike the free version of KeyScrambler and NextGen AntiKeylogger that only protects the well known major web browsers. Would be nice if Zemana has a feature that allows the user to manually exclude an application since it blocks all applications when the protection is active.

Additional Note: Although keystroke encryption provides really good protection against keyloggers, but they don’t protect you against form grabbing which is a pretty old method found in advanced malwares to grab the POST data from your web browser. They can however be prevented by some antivirus that can detect code injection and API hijacking on web browsers.

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