SAN FRANCISCO: Hackers are expected to have released more than 6000 keylogging programs during 2005, a 65 per cent jump in the amount of software that illegally records every keystroke on a PC, according to US security vendor, iDefense.
The software then reports this information back to the hacker, making it an effective way to snoop out confidential information like user names and passwords for the purpose of identity theft.
Keyloggers are often distributed by organised cybercrime groups that send them to unsuspecting victims via email. They are often included with other types of malicious software like spyware or phishing email.
The average cost of a successful keylogging attack was about $US4000 per victim, iDefense said, citing a survey by National Mutual Insurance.
But the financial cost is only part of the equation. These attacks are also typically a major drain on a victim's time. The National Mutual survey found that it took 81 hours, on average, for a victim of this type of fraud to resolve matters.
The use of keyloggers has exploded over the past few years, according to iDefense's numbers. In 2000, just 300 of the programs were released and the next year the number dropped to 275. The first real spike between 2002 and 2003, when the number of programs went from 444 to 1230. This year, the total is expected to jump from 3753 in 2004 to just under 6200.
iDefense is a unit of VeriSign that sells security intelligence to government and enterprise customers.