As technology advances, so do the security risks associated with it. Mechanical keyboards are no exception. While they offer a great typing experience, they can also pose a security risk if not used properly. In this article, we’ll explore what the security risks of using a mechanical keyboard are and how you can protect yourself from them.
What Are the Security Risks of Mechanical Keyboards?
Mechanical keyboards are becoming increasingly popular due to their tactile feedback and durability. However, they also come with certain security risks that should be taken into consideration. The most common security risk associated with mechanical keyboards is the potential for keylogging. Keylogging is the process of recording keystrokes, which can be used to gain access to sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Keyloggers are an increasingly common type of malware threatening consumers today. These programs record every keystroke the user makes, allowing malicious actors to gain access to confidential data without the user’s knowledge or consent. A keylogger is a piece of malicious software, usually called “spyware” or “malware,” that records every keystroke you make on a keyboard. It then sends this information back to its creator who can use it for various nefarious purposes such as identity theft or financial fraud. Nevertheless, they can pose a serious threat to users, as they can be used to intercept passwords and other confidential information entered into websites or applications while using a mechanical keyboard.
Another potential security risk is the possibility of physical tampering. Mechanical keyboards are more susceptible to physical tampering than other types of keyboards, as they are often easier to open and access the internal components.
Keyloggers are often used as a spyware tool by cybercriminals to steal personally identifiable information (PII), login credentials and sensitive enterprise data. They scrape up passwords, credit card and banking information, personal details, and more, to use in identity theft, financial frauds (such as unauthorized purchases), corporate espionage (such as stealing trade secrets), blackmailing schemes (by accessing private conversations), phishing scams (by collecting email addresses), ransomware attacks (by encrypting files on computers), etc.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The best way to protect yourself from the security risks associated with mechanical keyboards is to use a secure keyboard. Secure keyboards are designed to prevent keylogging and physical tampering, and they often come with additional features such as encryption and authentication. It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings when using a mechanical keyboard. Be sure to keep your keyboard in a secure location, away from prying eyes. Additionally, be sure to use a strong password and two-factor authentication when logging into websites and services.
- Firewall: A firewall can help protect against keyloggers by blocking the transmission of data back and forth between the victim’s device and the attacker.
- Encrypted Wireless Keyboards & Mice: Using AES encrypted wireless keyboards or mice can help protect against keyloggers since they do not transmit data over an unsecured connection.
- Educate Yourself: It is important for individuals to educate themselves on how keyloggers work so that they can recognize potential threats before it is too late. Microsoft 365 provides an excellent primer on keylogger threats which can help individuals stay informed about cyber security risks.
- Avoid Suspicious Websites & Downloads: Individuals should avoid downloading files or visiting websites that appear suspicious as these could contain malicious software such as keyloggers.
- Remove Existing Keylogger Threats: If you suspect that your device has been infected with a keylogger, it is important to take steps immediately in order to remove any existing threats. The first step should be running an anti-virus scan on your device. If this does not detect any malicious software, then you may need to manually search for any suspicious processes or files that could indicate the presence of a key logger. If you find anything suspicious, then it is best practice to delete these files immediately. Additionally, if possible, resetting your device back to its factory settings will ensure that all traces of malicious software have been removed.
The use of mechanical keyboards can be a great way to improve your typing experience, but it is important to be aware of the potential security risks associated with them. While it is highly unlikely that you need to take extreme measures in your own home, implementing hardware-based security like secure keyboards can be an important part of the mix. Those in IT-leadership roles are well aware that keyloggers are one of the most feared threats to computer security and should heed these tips so they don’t fall victim:
- Use a secure keyboard: Look for keyboards with anti-keylogging features or those that encrypt keystrokes.
- Be mindful of your surroundings: Be aware if someone is looking over your shoulder or trying to access your keyboard.
- Implement pass-through authentication: Use two-factor authentication when logging into websites and other services.
- Keep up with software updates: Make sure you have the latest version of any software installed on your computer.
- Invest in a good antivirus program: A good antivirus program will help protect against malicious software and keyloggers.
Ultimately, using a mechanical keyboard does not change the digital security of your PC. However, by taking these steps you can ensure that you are protected from physical tampering and keylogging.