[Windows] Protect yourself from keyloggers with the new freeware version of Zemana AntiLogger

Due to their frequent giveaways last year, most of us probably have heard of — if not used — Zemana AntiLogger, a security solution that costs $29.95 per year. However, I’m sure most dotTechies have not yet heard of Zemana AntiLogger Free, the freeware version of Zemana AntiLogger.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Zemana AntiLogger Free protects users from keyloggers by encrypting keystrokes. This means that if a keylogger were to ever capture your keystrokes, it would get a bunch of gibberish instead of your actual keystrokes.

Take note that Zemana AntiLogger Free only works with physical keyboards — it won’t encrypt keystrokes from a virtual keyboard.

Pros

  • Protects against most, if not all, keyloggers
  • Protects keystrokes for all programs and browsers, including games
  • Works side-by-side with other security programs, with little to no conflict
  • Extremely easy to use — simply install and go

Cons

  • Does not encrypt number pad keys (i.e. won’t encrypt numbers you type from your number pad)
  • Does not have self-defense capabilities; in other words, malware can potentially shut it down

Discussion

The paid version of Zemana AntiLogger provides protection against a variety of malware. Zemana AntiLogger Free, on the other hand, is specifically for the purposes of protecting users from keyloggers. Similar to KeyScrambler, Zemana AntiLogger Free encrypts keystrokes as you type — ensuring that if you are infected with a keylogger, the keylogger will only capture gibberish. The keystrokes are properly decrypted for use by the program you are typing in, so Zemana AntiLogger Free does not interfere with your typing.

Zemana AntiLogger Free protects keystrokes for all programs on your computer, including games — it isn’t limited to only specific browsers like KeyScrambler Free. And, AntiLogger Free works side-by-side with other security programs (like your anti-virus) without any issues… assuming you aren’t already using a keystroke encryption program.

The best part? Zemana AntiLogger Free is extremely easy to use. Simply install it and let it do its thing — you don’t need to even recognize its existence after installation.

Zemana says they have designed AntiLogger Free to encrypt keystrokes “at the deepest place in the kernel” and they have “tested [AntiLogger Free] against all public kernel level rootkits with keylogging capabilities, and none were able to capture keystrokes”. So AntiLogger Free should protect against any and all keyloggers, and during my brief test it did protect me just fine. However, it not impossible that some clever scumbag might develop a way to go even deeper than AntiLogger Free so don’t think AntiLogger Free is foolproof protection against keyloggers.

That being said, there are two potentially fatal flaws with AntiLogger Free.

The first flaw is AntiLogger Free does not “does not encrypt number pad keys, control sequences like CTRL + X, ENTER, and SPACE”. It isn’t a big deal that AntiLogger Free doesn’t encrypt control sequence keystrokes, but not encrypting number keys? Really? To be fair, AntiLogger Free does encrypt numbers when typed from the number row at the top of your keyboard but it does not encrypt numbers when typed from the number pad (I tested this to make sure). Does Zemana not understand how many people type numbers from the number pad and how important these numbers are? Credit card numbers? Birthdays? Social Security numbers? Fail, Zemana. For what it is worth, Zemana says the Beta version of AntiLogger Free does not encrypt number pad keys, meaning maybe when it comes out of Beta AntiLogger Free will encrypt number pad keys. Only time will tell.

The second flaw is AntiLogger Free has no self defense mechanisms. In other words, it cannot prevent malware from shutting it down. If you ever happen to download a keylogger that has the ability to close AntiLogger Free, you are screwed.

Conclusion and download link

Zemana AntiLogger Free is a valiant effort by Zemana to provide free antilogger protection to the masses. However, not encrypting number pad keys and not having self defense mechanism makes this program a “close but no cigar” type ordeal. I really like how AntiLogger Free encrypts keystrokes for all programs (and not just specific browsers like KeyScrambler Free) but I certainly won’t be depending on AntiLogger Free to protect me until it starts to encrypt all keystrokes — including the number pad ones.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: v1.0.1.866 Beta

Supported OS: Windows XP and higher

Download size: 2.9 MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/43

Portability: Is not portable

Zemana AntiLogger Free homepage

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14 comments

  1. ovl

    @Peter:

    You are comparing apples and oranges. All fixes included in Windows XP SP3 did not diminish the protective functions of SnoopFree Privacy Shield (version 1.0.7) which works successfully with Windows XP SP3, too! It wraps the XP operating system at a very low level by using proprietary driver technology and it watches all software running on your machine for potentially suspicious behavior.
    The way it works makes it virtually impossible for any spy program to work on your computer (http://www.raymond.cc/blog/how-to-beat-keyloggers-to-protect-your-identity/)

  2. RobCr

    I shouldn’t admit this being a programmer and all, but I have never paid much attention to security issues. So forgive me if this question is dumb (un-informed) -
    How does pasting of passwords relate to any of the above ?

  3. Philip

    I have just tried the antilogger free version. While I do appreciate the valiant effort, the software does not work against a simple keylogger like tspion found @(code.google.com/p/tspion/). Tspion picked up the keys just like that. In comparison, it couldnt pick up the keys from keyscrambler.

    Hope Zemana can fix that.

  4. ovl

    I think that “SnoopFree Privacy Shield” security software is better than freeware version of Zemana AntiLogger; also, it’s not compatible with Zemana regardless of your statement that Zemana “works side-by-side with other security programs, with little to no conflict’.

    SnoopFree Privacy Shield is powerful and free software that guards keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software in real time. It protects against three major threats: unauthorized screen shots, keyboard hooks, and unknown window reads (these 3 threats are the cornerstones of the spy software industry). SnoopFree automatically stops all software “keystroke loggers”. If any program tries to log your keystrokes, you’ll know about it instantly.

  5. AFPhys

    @r0lZ:
    If I were writing such a program, I would intercept the keystroke directly from the keyboard and set up a scrambled translation at the lowest level, and pass that on to the system. Immediately after that is the time that keyloggers would typically “log the keystroke”. After that, when the keystroke gets passed to the program by the operating system, I would have to intercept that and re-translate it to the proper character for storage and display by the program.

    I don’t know how to assure that the keylogger would not “be in ahead of me” in the original intercept, and have no idea of the way to do the retranslation, though I have written a program to do the initial intercept and it would be easy to pass on a scrambled character to a keylogger. I would have to do a lot of exploration and give a lot of thought about the retranslation step.

    There are many hooks and pointers embedded deep in the operating systems of computers to allow tremendous versatility of which most users have no concept. However, at some level they realize something more must be going on: somewhere along the line everyone has held down key and filled up the “keyboard buffer” and gotten a series of sounds “plunk plunk…” instead of having the character appear on screen. This is a result of these indirect pointers and hooks being invoked.

  6. AFPhys

    I am fairly sure that this program not translating the NumPad keys has to do with the scan codes sent by the keyboard to the PC: “The BIOS reports one scan code for a numeric keypad key when Num Lock is on, and a different code when Num Lock is off. ” http://www.columbia.edu/kermit/faq-c-nkp.html
    This, in turn, is likely related to such things as how NumLock works to begin with at the most elementary level, which you can get motivation (if not understanding) from here: http://ip.com/IPCOM/000019710
    Here is a decent article about keyboard scan codes in general: http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/kbd/scancodes-1.html

    Bottom line: interpreting keystrokes from other than the main Alphanumeric keyboard can be dicey, and may require a major amount of programming if you are trying to get to the lowest levels of the operating system to do a “scrambling” in order to frustrate keyloggers.

  7. kelltic

    I used Zemana Anti Logger for a few months back in 2010. First off, it slowed my boot time considerably. OK. No big deal. Then I would notice that a start-up app – or two, or three – hadn’t loaded. Updates made it worse and worse. Finally, hardly anything would load. I had to go into Safe Mode to uninstall the nasty Anti-logger. Soon as that was done, everything returned to normal.

    Use at your own risk. Myself, I’d rather have a virus.

  8. r0lZ

    Pro: “Protects keystrokes for all programs and browsers, including games”.
    Nice, but how can it be sure that the program that receive the keystrokes is not the malware? I understand that it protects you from keyloggers installed deeply in the system, but it will not protect you against a keylogger embedded in a regular program, such as a downloaded game. Is it also a flaw?