Adventures in Machine Learning

Python Keylogger: Legitimate and Malicious Use Cases Unveiled

Python Keylogger: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered if you could keep track of the activities happening on your computer? One of the most efficient ways to do so is by using a keylogger.

While keyloggers have been associated with malicious activities, it is important to note that they can also be used for legitimate purposes. In this article, we will explore how to build a Python keylogger and run it on Linux/Unix and Windows machines stealthily.

We will also explain the code and provide insights on where and when a keylogger can be used. Building a Python Keylogger: Installing Required Libraries

To build a Python keylogger, we need to install the required libraries.

The most common library used in building a keylogger is the pynput library which can be installed using pip – a package installer for Python. With pip, we can easily install the pynput library by opening the command prompt and typing the following:


pip install pynput


Implementing a Python Keylogger in just 10 Lines

Building a keylogger involves capturing and logging the keys pressed on a computer. This can be implemented in just 10 lines of code:


from pynput.keyboard import Key, Listener

def on_press(key):

with open(“log.txt”, “a”) as f:


with Listener(on_press=on_press) as listener:



The above code creates a listener that tracks every keystroke and logs it to a text file named `log.txt`.

Every key press is written to a new line in the file.

Explaining The Code

The above code uses the `pynput` library to capture the keys pressed on the keyboard. The `on_press()` function is called every time a key is pressed.

The function opens the `log.txt` file in append mode and writes the key pressed to it. The last two lines of code create a listener that calls the `on_press()` function every time a key is pressed.

The listener runs until the program is terminated, and every keystroke is logged to the file. Running the Python Keylogger: File Output

To run the keylogger, save the above code in a file with the name `` and run it from the terminal or command prompt using:




Running this command will start the keylogger, and every key pressed on the keyboard will be logged to the `log.txt` file.

Stealthily Running the Python Keylogger

While running a keylogger openly can violate privacy, there are legitimate scenarios where it can be useful to run the keylogger stealthily, without arousing suspicion. Below we will look at how to do that both on Linux/Unix and Windows machines.

On Linux/Unix: Running in the Background

On Linux and Unix systems, we can run the keylogger in the background by adding an `&` at the end of the command:


python &


This will allow the keylogger to run in the background while other processes continue running. On Windows: Hiding File Extension

On Windows machines, we can hide the file extension to make it appear more legitimate.

To do this, we can rename the `` file to `keylogger.txt` and create a shortcut to the file. Right-click on the file, select `Create Shortcut`, and then right-click on the newly created shortcut to select `Properties`.

In the shortcut properties, go to the `Target` field and add the following at the end of the line:


python keylogger.txt


This will run the keylogger whenever the shortcut is clicked, without revealing the `.py` file extension.


Using a keylogger has been viewed as a controversial activity over the years. However, it is essential to emphasize that there are legit usage scenarios for it.

In this write-up, we have learnt how to implement a keylogger in Python, stealthily run our logger on Linux/Unix and Windows machines.

Remember, the most important thing when developing a keylogger application is to ensure safe and ethical usage of the gathered data.

Python Keylogger: Taking a Closer Look at the Legitimate and Malicious Use Cases

While keyloggers have been predominantly associated with malicious activities in the past, it is important to note that they can be used for legitimate purposes as well. In this addition to our article, we will delve deeper into the different use cases for keyloggers.

Legitimate Use Cases for Keyloggers

1. Parental Control – Keyloggers can be used by parents to monitor their children’s online activities.

By tracking their keystrokes, parents can protect their children from various online threats such as cyberbullying, online predators, and exposure to inappropriate content. 2.

Employee Monitoring – Employers can use keyloggers to monitor the activities of their employees on company-owned devices. This allows them to identify any malpractice or misuse of company resources.

3. Law Enforcement – Law enforcement agencies can use keyloggers to obtain evidence in criminal investigations.

The keystrokes can provide insight into the suspect’s activities and evidence of wrongdoing. 4.

Research Purposes – Researchers often use keyloggers to gather data for their studies. This can include analyzing users online search queries and patterns, as well as analyzing the linguistic content of their emails.

Malicious Use Cases for Keyloggers

1. Hacking and Cyber Attacks – Cybercriminals can use keyloggers to obtain sensitive or confidential information such as passwords, login credentials, social security numbers, and credit card details.

This information can be used for identity theft, financial fraud, or other malicious activities. 2.

Espionage – Keyloggers can be used for spying and espionage purposes. Hackers can plant keyloggers on the victim’s device to monitor their activities and gain access to sensitive information.

3. Cyberbullying – Keyloggers can be used for cyberbullying purposes, with the attacker monitoring the keystrokes of the victim in order to gain insight into their online activities and bully or harass them.

Precautions to Take When Using Keyloggers

If you plan to use a keylogger for legitimate purposes, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure that your use of the software is ethical and legal. 1.

Obtain Consent – Before installing a keylogger on someone’s device, you must obtain their consent. If you plan to monitor your children’s activities, for example, make sure you inform them that you will be using a keylogger.

2. Avoid Sensitive Information – If you plan to use a keylogger to monitor your employees, avoid using it to capture sensitive personal information such as passwords or credit card details.

3. Secure the Data – Make sure that the data captured by the keylogger is properly secured and stored.

Limit access to the data to only those who need it and ensure that it is destroyed when it is no longer needed. 4.

Stay Within the Law – Before deploying a keylogger, make sure that it is legal to do so according to the laws of your country or state.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, keyloggers can be used for both legitimate and malicious purposes. While it is important to respect individual privacy, there are certain scenarios where keyloggers can be useful for educational and monitoring purposes.

If used ethically and within the boundaries of the law, keyloggers can provide valuable insight into the activities of individuals and can be a useful tool in identifying potential threats and risks. In conclusion, this article has explored the topic of Python keylogging, addressing both its legitimate and malicious use cases.

We have learned how to build and run a keylogger in Python, as well as the precautions we should take when using keyloggers. Whether you’re a parent monitoring your children’s online activities, an employer monitoring your employees, or a law enforcement agent investigating criminal activities, keyloggers can be an effective tool in providing insight into an individual’s keystrokes.

However, it is important to use keyloggers ethically, with proper consent and in accordance with the law. It is vital to recognize the importance of privacy and individual rights while ensuring the safety and benefit of educational or monitoring purposes.

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