There has been an ongoing debate about the ethics of monitoring in the workplace. Many instinctively associate this practice with intrusive espionage and abusive micromanagement.
The topic has become even bigger amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While government units implemented social distancing regulations, many companies resorted to remote work. Now, millions of employees have made their homes their offices.
Of course, managers still expect their employees to work efficiently in this setup. However, they now face the added struggles of housekeeping and homeschooling kids. Most workers are no longer within company premises and even under business hours, the lines continue to blur.
As such, many have resorted to using keyloggers to implement employee monitoring in the virtual workplace.
In this post, we’re going to share some of the best keyloggers for Mac and Windows. We’ll also discuss the legal and ethical considerations when using this technology.
Top 10 Free Keyloggers
If you’re still on the fence about whether you’ll invest in a premium keylogger, then we have a solution for you. You can try the best free keyloggers and see if the product is something that can bring value to your company and operations. Here are some of the highly-rated names on the market:
Spyrix is among the best keyloggers for Mac and Windows. While it gained popularity among over-zealous parents, it can also be used in corporate settings. This keylogger can support 12 languages, making it ideal for companies that manage geographically scattered workers.
Once installed, Spyrix will monitor and record every installed application and program running on the device. It will take screenshots of active windows and even removable drives and peripherals like printers. It also records keystrokes and clipboards.
⦁ Free to install and use
⦁ Can be used alongside Internet filtering tools
⦁ Hidden monitoring feature
⦁ Anti-virus can flag it as malicious software
⦁ Social network and instant messaging monitoring is only available in the paid plan
You don’t need complex tech skills to operate Refog. It has a user-friendly interface, making it the best remote keylogger for beginners. With this tool, you can gather information like web browsing history and even typed text. It records a user’s keystrokes on social media sites, web pages, and even in chats. All the while, it indicates the time of visit or use. What’s more, Refog can track actions and file activities, including anything copied, pasted, and deleted.
⦁ Can record a comprehensive amount of activities
⦁ User-friendly interface
⦁ Provides real-time remote viewing
⦁ Offers accurate time monitoring
⦁ No remote reports for the free version
3. Elite Keylogger
If you’re looking for a free Mac keylogger that’s easy to use, don’t forget to check out Elite Keylogger. Once this app is installed, it will automatically record keystrokes. It will also note the timestamp, user, and app.
When you upgrade to the paid version, you can have a keylogger for Mac that also records passwords. From time to time, the app will also take screenshots discreetly, allowing you to monitor the system.
What’s more, Elite Keylogger lets you see everything that is being copied and pasted on a particular device. This can be an important feature in corporate settings. After all, the 2021 Thales Data Threat Report says that 47% of US companies have experienced data breaches in the past. Indeed, it’s crucial to know what goes in and out of an organization’s network.
- User-friendly and clean interface
- Logged data can be organized into categories
- Support for up to three languages
⦁ No monitoring for file activities
4. Actual Keylogger
The interface of Actual Keylogger doesn’t differ too much from what other similar tools have. Its dashboard also displays the events with their corresponding description and timestamp. You can configure the tool to monitor messaging apps and social network sites under separate categories. What’s more, Actual Keylogger lets managers set a website blacklist with categories ranging from gaming and adult sites to shopping and social media, among others.
⦁ Available in 12 languages
⦁ Can track system inactivity time
⦁ Offers clandestine operations
⦁ Cannot track file activities
⦁ Cannot block specific programs
⦁ Doesn’t record mouse screen clicks
While Iwantsoft may not be the best free keylogger for Mac, it is an efficient tool for monitoring activities on Windows. It can record keystrokes, app activities, web browsing history, and even clipboard content. What’s more, it can block unnecessary websites and apps.
⦁ User-friendly interface
⦁ Can generate comprehensive reports
⦁ Can operate in stealth mode
⦁ Cannot record mouse screen clicks
⦁ Doesn’t track file activities or content copied from documents
6. Revealer Keylogger
Revealer Keylogger is one of the best Mac keyloggers that offers support for multiple language and password protection. What’s more, it’s also compatible with Windows devices. It lets you configure the tool’s startup settings and even allows you to run it with elevated privileges. It can record keystrokes and also track applications and programs used.
⦁ Easy-to-use interface
⦁ Active features in the free version are fully functional
⦁ Most features, including screenshot capture, are available in the paid version
⦁ Features available in the free version are too basic
7. Real Free Keylogger
Note: No official website.
The strong selling point of Real Free Keylogger is how it records all keystrokes. Unlike other tools that have a selective tracking feature, this keylogger will monitor all the activities you need. What’s more, managers can set a password so that they can exclusively access and view the logs.
⦁ Can log all keystrokes
⦁ Highly intuitive interface for easy navigation
⦁ Stealth mode is only available in the paid version
⦁ Lacks the advanced options that other keyloggers have
Teams with no more than six remote employees can use Kickidler for free. What’s great about this tool is it allows remote access. So, if you notice any suspicious keystrokes or activity, you can take over the user’s device to prevent further damage.
⦁ Won’t come in conflict with antivirus
⦁ Easy to set up and manage
⦁ Excellent integration
⦁ No traffic or email monitoring features
⦁ Last software update was in 2014
9. BlackBox Security Monitor Express
Note: No official website.
BlackBox Security Monitor Express can efficiently monitor activity and app usage. It can also record keystrokes and capture screenshots. If you need to monitor the emails sent and received by a user, this tool can be a great option.
⦁ Configurable warnings and alerts
⦁ Can monitor all network traffic
⦁ No hotkey for launching the tool
10. Best Free Keylogger
Note: No official website.
Best Free Keylogger is an intuitive monitoring tool that is available in free and paid versions. You can use it to record keystrokes, clipboard content, running apps, and Internet activity. What’s more, you can delete the recorded logs remotely.
⦁ Password protected upon installation
⦁ User-friendly interface
⦁ Limited number of screenshots per day
⦁ Premium tech support and invisible mode only available in the paid version
What Is a Keylogger
A keylogger is a type of surveillance technology that any use to record and monitor every keystroke on a computer keyboard. Often, cybercriminals use t to steal log-in credentials, personal data, and sensitive corporate information.
Even so, companies can use it legally to monitor activities within their network. With keylogging software, employers can prevent data leaks, observe worker performance, and investigate unlawful actions. Aside from that, parents can use it to ensure that their kids’ online activities are safe and harmless.
There are two primary types of keyloggers for Mac and Windows:
A person with a software keylogger can create an account and use it to record the keystrokes on the target device. In most cases, users can go through their online accounts to view the recorded data. Moreover, software keyloggers are completely invisible and undetectable to the target. It is usually the solution for those who want to operate discreetly.
A person with a software keylogger can create an account and use it to record the keystrokes on the target device. In
Hardware keyloggers are small devices that users can connect to a keyboard or computer. With this option, there’s no need to install any extra software. As long as the hardware keylogger is attached to the device, it can begin reading and recording keystrokes.
However, do note that keylogging devices are physically visible. So, the monitored user can easily notice it.
Employee Monitoring with Keyloggers
There are plenty of liabilities to consider when letting your workforce operate remotely. With no one to supervise them in person, a more stringent risk management plan should be put in place. Businesses have to address liabilities like data theft, moonlighting under company hours, damaging communications, and illegal behavior like drug abuse or embezzlement. With all the risks involved in remote work, you’ve probably considered looking into the keylogging trade.
Some companies have clauses in their recruitment contracts that require their employees to install a keylogger. This piece of software tracks keystrokes, emails, visited websites, and even passwords. As of this writing, no federal law has been passed to interpret the use of keyloggers in the workplace — even discreetly — as illegal. So, as long as a company installs keyloggers without the purpose of trespass and abuse, then the practice is completely legal.
Using Keyloggers Might Be Legal, But Is It Ethical?
The legal freedom to monitor employees’ activity is a powerful tool. As with any weapon, the best keylogging software is only as good as the motives of the person using it. Technically speaking, companies have the right to and ownership of the hours employees spend at work. However, when tracking and monitoring are overdone, they damage employee morale and hamper productivity.
Most keyloggers have no limitations when it comes to recording keystrokes. These tools can even record passwords and usernames. When sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to serious repercussions. Now, if you want to ensure accountability without infringing on your workers’ privacy, you must choose a tool that promotes ethical monitoring.
Take Traqq as an example. Indeed, this time tracking program collects screenshots and video clips. However, the tool reduces their quality to the extent that would prevent compromising sensitive data. Aside from that, the data stored in the cloud is protected with military-grade encryption. You can ensure accountability and security without infringing on privacy. Now, that’s ethical employee monitoring.