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Attention Teleworkers: Keep Keyloggers from Stealing Your Data

More workers than ever are ditching the office and working from home, on the road, or from client sites. According to WorldatWork, occasional telework has risen dramatically in just the past several years. Look at these statistics:


  • The number of employee telecommuters in the United States increased 39%, from 12.4 million to 17.2 million, between 2006 and 2008.
  • The sum of all teleworkers — employees, contractors and business owners — increased 43% from 2003 to 2008, reaching 33.7 million last year. 
  • Fewer people are teleworking full time; however, more people are working remotely at least once a month. 
  • The most common locations for remote work are home (87%), a customer’s place of business (41%) and car (37%). Restaurants and libraries are becoming less common locations for telecommuting.


If you are one of the millions of people remotely accessing a business network — whether it’s every day or just once a month — you need to be aware of the security threat posed by keyloggers.


A keylogger is a piece of software that records every keystroke made on a computer. A hacker who installs a keylogger virus on your computer will be able to see everything you type on your machine — which comes in handy when they want to steal passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or sensitive corporate data.


For years, cybercriminals have been installing keylogger viruses on easy-to-breach, publicly accessed machines, such as those used in libraries. But your worry as a telecommuter probably won’t be whatever viruses are crawling all over a publicly used machine — as statistics show, you’re almost definitely using your own computer or a company-provided one for business work. So what you have to beware of is a whole new round of viruses that can be downloaded to your work machine.


Remember that Conficker worm that was supposed to strike on April Fool’s Day, and ended up exploding about a week later? One of its most devastating payloads was a keylogger virus.


So to protect yourself from keyloggers stealing your passwords, don’t ever use public computers for any procedure that requires a login — that means everything from checking email to checking a bank balance. And on your own computer, make sure your antivirus and antispyware definitions are up to date and that you regularly run full system scans. (Many people halt system scans midway through or just stop running them altogether because they take up so much processing power.) If you want one less security issue to worry about, you can always sign up for a service like CMIT Marathon that automatically takes care of all your updates and scans for you. To find out more, click here.


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