Hardware Keyloggers Explained

What are hardware keyloggers?

How do they work?

What can they do?

What advantages and disadvantages do they have over normal keyloggers?

How do they work

They are basically made out of 2 parts. The first part is the interrupter which interrupts the signals sent from the keystrokes and then stores them. The storage is actually the second part of a hardware keylogger. The storage can vary from 2mb to 2gb of flash memory, and 2mb are enough for a week of use (with gaming).

This memory is often encrypted so that it can be accessed only by the person that has placed the device.

Access to the device is gained by pressing a special combination of keys which switch between “keystroke capturing” mode and “usb flash drive” mode. After the keys are pressed you usually get a message saying that a new usb disk drive has been found, inside you will find the keystroke logs that were gathered and a configuration file that you can modify to change the secret access key.

Types of hardware keyloggers:

1. usb keylogger

– works on all USB keyboards. Including MAC keyboards.

2. ps/2 keylogger

3. Frame recorder

– This is some of the more advanced technologies. IT is a keylogger that literally steals the monitor input from the cable every few seconds. It is attached on the VGA, DVI or HDMI cable.

4. Wifi

– This type of keylogger can send the captured information over the internet to your email address. Cool!

5. Invisible

– This one is a little tricky to place because you need to literally open the keyboard and stuck it in a specific place (you get a manual with it) after closing the keyboard you have a totally invisible keylogger, both from software and from the eye

Advantages and disadvantages over software keyloggers:


The good thing about these keyloggers is that they work on all platforms. Including MAC, WINDOWS and LINUX.

Another good thing about hardware keyloggers is that they are extremely simple to use, you just plug and play. No installations. No antivirus problems. No memory consumption. And no detectability problems.

The last advantage over software keyloggers is that they can catch bios passwords because they are running all the time, not only after windows gets booted up.


– lack of organization

The hardware keyloggers are usually scattered… you don’t know where what has been written and you have to guess. And this one is huge! Scanning trough the logs of a hardware keylogger can be really excruciating compared to scanning trough the logs of a normal keylogger.

– Lack of features

Even the most advanced hardware keyloggers are far behind the software keyloggers. Just check out this keylogger review comparison to see the all the different features of a normal keylogger. A good software keylogger can even spy on a microphone and a webcam.


Hardware keyloggers are better to use for some specific situations. Like when you need the bios password, or when you need to be extra sneaky and fast and you don’t have time to install a software keylogger (mission impossible). However, if you do have time to install the software keylogger I would suggest that you do that, since it will be a lot easier to go trough the LOGS.