Word Notes 6.1.21
Ep 52 | 6.1.21

keylogger (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: keylogger.

Rick Howard: Spelled: key as in the little chiclet pieces on computer keyboards that represent letters, numbers, and symbols, and logger as in a machine that records telemetry.

Rick Howard: Definition: Software or hardware that records the computer keys pressed by a user. 

Rick Howard: Example sentence: Not always nefarious, some IT departments use keyloggers to troubleshoot problems and systems.

Rick Howard: Origin and context: Also known as keystroke loggers, according to the Cub Cyber blog, the first hardware keylogger appeared in the 1970s when the Soviets bugged IBM typewriters in the U.S. Embassy and Consulate buildings in Moscow. These devices managed to eavesdrop on classified letters and memos for at least eight years during the Cold War. After receiving a tip from a U.S. ally who found that implant inside an embassy teleprinter, the Americans launched operation GUNMAN to locate any listening devices. In the end, the NSA discovered 16 keystroke loggers, invisible to the naked eye inside U.S. Typewriters by scanning with x-ray equipment. 

Rick Howard: According to the University of Wisconsin at Madison faculty page, adjunct professor Perry Kivolowitz  published the source code to the first known software keylogger in the late 1980s in order to demonstrate the need for greater security in the Unix operating system. 

Rick Howard: And in one of the largest data breaches in the last decade, Chinese cyber spies stole some 80 million customer records from the U.S. healthcare giant Anthem. The Chinese established a beachhead into the Anthem networks by compromising five employees via phishing and  installing a keylogger onto their systems.

Rick Howard: Nerd reference: In the gorgeous, but kind of silly 2015 movie "Blackhat" directed by Michael Mann, a furloughed convict working for the FBI, Mick Hathaway, played by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, tricks an NSA agent through spearphishing to download a malicious PDF that then installs a keylogger. Thor uses that malware to steal the agent's password. Now don't get me wrong, I love this movie. Anytime that Thor wants to play somebody like me in a movie, I'm all in. I tell my grandma to watch the movie cause everything in it is totally true. I think she believes me. 

Rick Howard: Bonus points to having Michael Mann direct it, the same guy that gave us the Miami vice TV show in the 1980s, and one of the greatest crime dramas of all time, Heat, starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. I just wish the movie was a little bit better.

Rick Howard: Word notes is written by Nyla Gennaoui. Executive produced by Peter Kilpe and edited by John Petrik and me Rick Howard. The mix, sound design, and original music have all been crafted by the ridiculously talented Elliott Peltzman. Thanks for listening.