Can Virtual Keyboards Protect You from Hackers?

Using an onscreen keyboard will prevent the keylogger from tracking the password keyed

Can Virtual Keyboards Protect You from Hackers?
Can Virtual Keyboards Protect You from Hackers?
Madhuparna Roy Sukul - 23 July 2021

If you are anything like me, then you are probably wondering how safe your credit card information is while having an online transaction. Whether your credentials are safe is a big question, because living in the world of social media has its own set of challenges, like cybercrimes.

According to the CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team), there were around 11,58,208 cybersecurity incidents reported in 2020 alone. From attacking the financial institutions to the recent case of the Pegasus spyware, it calls for immediate attention and awareness of the individuals. While the NCCC - National Cyber Coordination Centre is doing its bit to spread awareness on the ongoing cybersecurity concerns, there are a few things that you can do on your part as an additional measure.

Is there a way to prevent hackers? To an extent, yes! Companies such as PayPal and Amazon offer virtual keyboards with their checkout process, which may be just what we need for safer transactions. As a matter of fact, when you hop into the net banking page of a bank, you have an option to sign-in through the virtual keyboard. So, does a virtual keyboard really help hackers to intrude on your privacy during online transactions? This article will explore the research and evidence behind virtual keyboard usage.

What is a Virtual Keyboard and How Does it Work?

A virtual keyboard or the "interactive keyboard", is a device that enables users to input onscreen text via their cell phone touchscreen or with a computer mouse or touchpad instead of physically typing the words. It's a great solution for people who don't want to use a handheld device to access their keyboard.

Some of its key features include built-in dictionaries, punctuation marks, hotkey management, tracking spelling, and even built-in translators and spell checkers.

How does a Virtual Keyboard Work?

To use a virtual keyboard, you need to have a touch screen keyboard or a physical keyboard connected to your laptop or mobile device via a USB cable. While typing, make sure to tap on any one of the virtual keyboard hotkeys that will provide you a list of words starting with that key. In the end once you are done typing, hit the ‘Enter’ key.

Why Should You Use an On-Screen Keyboard?

A virtual keyboard can be seen as a "virtual employee" which interacts with the website user through various functions, such as: word prediction, text composition, and file management. Because a virtual keyboard is actually a computer terminal, it has the same advantages as any other computer terminal, including minimal cost, minimal power consumption, minimal downtime for maintenance or other repairs, and the ability to perform tasks even when the internet or server is not functioning. As long as all these factors are in place, then there is no reason why the benefits of Vulnerability Assessment and Prevention (VA&P) should be overlooked.

The VA&P focuses on the traffic that the website is generating and ensures cybersecurity,i.e if the traffic is being generated by a legitimate user, or by an illegal or fraudulent one. For instance, there might be a flood on the website in order to obtain someone's personal or financial information. This might result in the flooding of the server, and that would be considered fraudulent activity.

VA&P can also prevent hackers from getting into the database or sending out any sort of confidential data to an unauthorised party. Moreover, a virtual keyboard allows for faster typing than traditional keyboards which can save time during those busy working hours.

It also has the added benefit of preventing hackers from intercepting passwords or personal information through key logging software because it doesn't use physical keys at all! A keylogger is a hidden software (spyware) or hardware (used in ATM frauds) used by a hacker to monitor and capture your keystrokes and has been in existence since the 1970s. The data captured can be your financial information like debit card or credit card details, PIN, bank account numbers, usernames, passwords, and more.

Why do Some Users Avoid a Virtual Keyboard?

However, the on-screen keyboards may not be the right fit for everyone because it can support a very limited number of popular types of keys. Also, it may only be able to support a small number of common languages, like English or Spanish, and it can be limited to characters in these two languages.

Some of its other disadvantages are that most users find the interface of a virtual keyboard difficult to use and that it cannot provide visual feedback. If you type text input letters without seeing them, you may miss some of the letters or they may collide with each other.

How to Prevent Cyber-Attacks Using a virtual keyboard?

According to cybersecurity experts, you may often receive a .exe (executable) file as an email attachment and you immediately realise the threat and delete the email. However, malware injected by the keyloggers can have .doc, .mp3, or any such extension that you may not suspect and you end up clicking on the file. As soon as you click on the file, the app or software gets installed on your computer within a few seconds. Once installed, the person who is controlling the keylogger gets access to all the keystrokes used by the email user. The risk is higher with the shared computers as the data can also be downloaded by the person who injected the malware.

However, using an onscreen keyboard will prevent the keylogger—from tracking the password keyed, thus, working as an additional shield for your online banking transactions.

Virtual keyboards are a great way to protect yourself when surfing the internet, no matter where your computer is. Although not completely secure, having a virtual keyboard on your computer will ensure that you are essentially 'preventing' hackers from getting into your files. While it is true that cyber offenders may be able to gain access to your data, if they can't log into a virtual keyboard, then your information is safe.

The author is a Tech Columnist

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.


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