A Keylogger is software that you install on a computer to spy on family, friends, or employees. Keyloggers work by tracking and logging every keystroke, website, and action that someone does on a computer under your control. You can periodically send those logs to your email or review them manually on the computer when your target is not around.
Who Would Need A Keylogger?
Keyloggers are popular with hackers because they can trick you into installing them so that they can steal your passwords or see the sites that you visit without you being aware. However, modern anti-virus programs are aware of keyloggers which makes them difficult to install for legitimate purposes.
So why would a non-hacker want to use a keylogger application?
- Is your significant other acting suspicious? Are they cheating on you?
- Are your employees stealing from you by wasting time surfing the Internet all day?
- Are your kids watching inappropriate things online or chatting with the wrong people?
There are several valid reasons for installing a keylogger on your computer but please be aware that this is not going to be easy if you’re not very good with computers. They make it as easy as possible for you though and offer support on their website.
Keyloggers also represent a moral gray area with potential legal consequences if used improperly. Please review your local laws about installing keyloggers.
Elite Keylogger for Windows or Mac
In this review we tried out Elite Keylogger for Windows. We installed it on a brand new Windows 10 Pro virtual machine with no third-party security or anti-virus plugins. Windows Defender was enabled by default.
To install the software you have to download a small file from mega.nz by copying a link and then pasting it into another tab or browser. The default is to download for Mac OS so be sure to switch it to the “For Windows” tab.
This small file (ek_install_0315206.exe) is used to download the actual software (ek_setup.exe) later on.
Before you download you’ll see a warning, “It’s your sole responsibility to make sure your local laws any [sic] digital surveillance and using a keylogger is legal in your country.”
By the way, they say that their software will work on Windows XP and we initially tried to download it on our trusty old Windows XP virtual machine, however you won’t be able to download it from their site because IE is not able to connect to websites with newer SSL certificates (HTTPS).
But if you’re still using Windows XP you have bigger problems than a cheating boyfriend!
Disable Anti-Virus Protection
Before you continue you should review some of the warnings that you will get when you try to install their keylogger: https://www.elitekeyloggers.com/help/keyloggers-vs-antiviruses/
Some of the statements sound questionable. It’s the kind of thing a scammer would say to you to try and convince you to fall for their scam. But keyloggers are technically malware and in order to pull this off you’re going to have to go a bit farther than just installing it and waiting for your target to use the machine.
If you’re using a Mac you probably don’t have as much to disable since Macs usually don’t have any virus software installed.
After downloading the initial file we almost immediately got a warning from Windows Defender about a virus. We took a lot of screenshots so check out the gallery below to see what happened. We disabled Windows Defender’s Real-time protection and Cloud-based protection and before being prompted (see gallery) we added the two downloaded files to our exclusions list to help prevent any further difficulties.
Continuing with the install, the software told us to add 4 files to our anti-virus’s exclusions list. If you didn’t know how to disable your anti-virus you’re probably going to have a tough time finding where to add exclusions. Again, we’re not going to go over how to add exclusions to your favorite anti-virus software but if you poke around the options and settings long enough you’re likely to find it.
Post Installation Options
During the installation you have some decisions to make. If you only want to monitor the target for a little while you can schedule the software to automatically delete itself. That was a nice, unexpected feature.
Super Secret Key
Moving forward in time a bit…after you install the software and configure it you will need to close it so that your target can’t see it, right? But how do you get back in to make changes or see what your target was doing?
In order to open the software once you install it you have to type a super secret word into your Run menu. That super secret word? “unhide”
If you’re monitoring your employees and you have a particularly savvy computer programmer on your staff you might want to change the secret word to something else and luckily the software allows you to change “unhide” to whatever you want.
Let’s say that you didn’t want to change “unhide” to something else but you do want to password protect the keylogger so that someone can’t change the options. Luckily that’s also available during the post installation.
Reboot To Complete Installation
In order to complete the installation you have to reboot your computer to complete the installation and adjust some additional settings. If you don’t reboot, you run the risk of your target seeing what you were trying to do.
Unfortunately, after we rebooted, Windows Defender turned itself back on and found some pretty scary threats even though we “whitelisted” the keylogger. We’re not sure if these threats are the keylogger itself or the, very unnecessary, download from mega.nz.
After your install you should probably clear the browsing history so that your target doesn’t see it. You should also clear any anti-virus scans so that your target doesn’t find them.
Elite Keylogger Options And Settings
Once you have the software installed you can start to see some of the things that it collects including:
- Internet activity
- Applications history
Some of the options weren’t available in the demo, like password tracking, but after registration you would be able to view any passwords that your target typed.
The interface has a calendar so that you can select the dates you would like to review.
Remember that when your target is typing, it will monitor every keystroke including any backspaces. You can see in our screenshot that we made a typo (on purpose, as far as you know) and it logged the backspace key.
If your target is typing a lot of text and doesn’t type very well that could get a little difficult to read. Luckily there’s a screenshots tab that will take a snapshot every so often so you can probably read what they were typing over there instead.
In the preferences area you can export your preferences so that you can install it on multiple computers which might be useful for setting up monitoring on your small business or multiple kid computers.
Send Logs To Your Email
One of the nice features of a keylogger is the ability to email the logs to yourself so that you don’t have to try to regain access to the computer when your target isn’t there. We tested the feature and it worked well except for screenshots. They were too small to be useful but you probably get better images in the full version.
You can see that it sent us the logs from each of the areas in the gallery screenshots below.
You can gather logs in several ways:
- USB Drive
- Network Share
The trial version did not include the ability to see passwords but the full version does. Be aware that email is inherently insecure so you could be sending your target’s bank or credit card password in plain text across the Internet to your mailbox. If that concerns you then you should consider one of the other log options. We didn’t test FTP or USB.
The emailed logs included keystrokes, Internet activity, Applications history, Clipboard, and Passwords. You can also send Screenshots but keep in mind that a long browsing session might create hundreds of images. If you’re going to send them to an email account you should use a free Gmail account with lots of space.
Is It Really Hidden?
One of the most important features of a keylogger is to make sure that it remains hidden. As we found out, during our reboot, the keylogger was installed, though not fully configured, and Windows Defender was able to see it. We went further and tested a few more scenarios to see how much Windows Defender could see by running full scans. Ultimately we were able to configure it so that Windows Defender didn’t complain however it did alert us that items were skipped during the last scan. It was talking about the whitelisted items we added and that might call attention to the files. But the files have cryptic names and look like typical Windows files so a novice user probably won’t suspect anything.
There was no noticeable trace of the program in Task Manager or Services which is good. We also looked at the MSCONFIG tool to see if we could find it and did not.
We were able to find the location where the screenshots were stored however most people don’t go poking around that deep into their computer so it’s unlikely they would find them.
Note that the full version of the software may have a way to hide itself better from your anti-virus software. We were only reviewing the 7-day trial.
There were several warnings about making sure that you disabled your anti-virus software so that the keylogger software will install properly. This might be difficult for some people as most users buy an anti-virus software package, install it, and forget about it until it tells them to reboot to apply updates. Most users don’t actively disable their anti-virus so this might be a challenge for some non-technical users.
But once you get past the anti-virus issues the tool worked as expected and had several options for both recording information and sending it to you for review.