A quick overview on evolution of keyloggers and spy software and their “antispy” counterpart --------------
They started off as tiny, little programs that computer geeks and programmers used to log and monitor keystrokes for personal use, but eventually someone realized that these applications known as “keyloggers” would be one of easiest applications to market on web. The FBI already used a program known as “magic lantern”, but public did no become aware of such programs until later.
Until Mikkotech (http://www.mikkotech.com) made one first keystroke recorders available to general public called “KeyKey Monitor,” which was used primarily as a security and back-up application, available on a handful of shareware sites.
Enter a scheming marketer. They cut a deal with Mikkotech, promising to sell their product like wildfire if they gave them reseller rights. So Mikkotech concurred. This unnamed reseller (marketer) registered domain name KeyKey.com (now gone because of legal reasons), but still owns KeyKeyMonitor.com (which sells a highly overpriced and outdated version of program). Then an unnamed reseller used Clickbank (http://www.clickbank.com) to promote software started selling like hotcakes. But that was just beginning.
Clickbank was one of web’s first affiliate networks and is still one of largest. This reseller placed an affiliate program on Clickbank offering a totally, royalty-free reseller rights to anyone who bought KeyKey application from them. On their site, KeyKey was marketed as a tool to:
1.Find out what your spouse is doing online 2.Monitor your employees 3.Monitor your children 4.Stop intruders and internal data-theft 5.Back-up your work
Numbers 1, 2 and 3 sparked interest in just about every visitor.
But web marketers jumped all over opportunity to get their own brand of KeyKey (with royalty-free resell rights) to sell and programmers made their own versions of Keyloggers and marketed them in same way. These programs very quickly infiltrated web. Programmers were breaching copyrights, stealing codes. Before keystroke monitoring software was created, web spying for under $50.00 wasn’t possible.
These various newly branded “spy software” programs eventually became more professional-looking and efficient, monitoring more than simply keystrokes. Virtual Imagination made a program called Snap Shot Spy (http://www.snapshotspy.com) that used a different approach: It took screen shots of your PC and let you look at images to monitor activity. But this was considered to be primitive by many, because it took up too much disk space and slowed down one’s computer. That technology is more efficient today, however, spy software has continuously evolved.
In late 90’s, Spectorsoft (http://www.spectorsoft.com/) and Spytech Web made two most robust, feature-rich programs that have been copied for years and still are imitated to this day. Their programs were: Spector, Eblaster and SpyAgent (http://www.spyagent-spyanywhere.com). These programs are amazing! They monitor and capture everything: Keystrokes, screenshots, passwords, web sites visited, applications used, Instant Messenger conversations, hidden windows, mouse clicks and more. They monitor every aspect of PC. Best of all, they run in stealth mode: The program is not visible in start menu, Ctrl-Alt-Del will not show program running and there is no folder for it. And if by fluke program is found, it’s password-protected. If logs are found, they’re encrypted!
There are also specialized products like ChatBlocker (http://www.chatblocker.com), that is specifically designed to monitor Instant Messengers, and pop3 and web-based e-mail spy software products, like Webmail Spy, EmailSpy Pro and EmailObserver all found on Email Spyware (http://www.emailspyware.com).
Spy Vs. Spy The software facilitated online spying and made it available and easy-to-use for general public. And it was almost impossible to get caught. That has since changed. After Trojans and Virus Worms ran rampant across web and e-mail systems in early 90s, there was an explosion in what market? Anti-Virus of course!
Anti-keyloggers quickly became product to combat growing number of spy programs available to public. Privacy was being abolished and it was not at hands of CIA, NSA or James Bond (who supposedly do it for their profound love of our great Western nations), but at hands of our spouses, neighbours, parents and employers. Sure there are some instances where keyloggers come in handy, but anti-spy software market was just too much of a goldmine for developers to ignore.