keylogger evidence

would a hardware based USB keylogger show up on a windows machine in audit logs/registry entries as it would any sort of USB device, e.g. keyboard, mouse, external USB storage? We have suspicions about an employee and need to analyse each of his colleagues machine to verify anything plugged into a USB port is 'known about', but I didnt know by the very nature of such hacking keylogger devices if they are designed to hide the fact they were ever connected to a machine, or if they aren't that sophisticated and would show in the USB logs like any other USB connected device. I know there are tools to view what has been plugged in to USB ports on a machine, .e.g and it looks like they search the SYSTEM registry hive.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
No, it would not show.  Such a device would be designed to not identify itself to a host.

You would not even see a keyboard disconnection event; it would be plugged in before the machine is turned on for the day and removed after it is turned off.  Unplug the keyboard, plug the keyboard into the keylogger, plug the keylogger into the victim PC.  At the end of the day, reverse the procedure.

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Martyn SpencerManaging DirectorCommented:
By my understanding, every USB device is going to have a hardware ID of some description. If I were designing a keylogger, I would ensure that my keylogger read the hardware ID of the keyboard and just passed it through to the host PC. That would make it far less detectable. Likely there are more folks here who can offer some more targeted advice for you.

One reason why organisations physically retain keyboards in their USB sockets and block unused ports is to reduce the chance of physical modification.
nociSoftware EngineerCommented:
USB actualy is a kind of network.  and a device can present it's address.
To avoid conflicts when multiple devices are connected a Producer/Devicetype/Serialnumber triplet is used to identify devices.
In this case it could reflect the ID of the keyboard BEHIND it... and present that to the host.

So effectively any USB device CAN show any number it will (but most obviously don't)  to get the right OS driver communicate to the right endpoint.
In the case of Key loggers it makes sense to have it mimick the device it is connected to.just to not show itself.
(it should handle traffic transparently anyway.)   It doesn't even have to actively communicate.
It could tap on the wire and just listen to all the traffic and take a not on the signals exchanged (translated into keystrokes)..
Tools enumerating the bus still won't show  these in both cases.

On a Unix system lsusb does directly enumerate the bus and it won't (should not ) notice it.
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Martyn SpencerManaging DirectorCommented:
Noci's explanation makes perfect sense. Very clear.
andyalderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
Some of the USB keyloggers appear as an extra (generic) Texas Instruments USB hub.
Martyn SpencerManaging DirectorCommented:
Some of the USB keyloggers appear as an extra (generic) Texas Instruments USB hub.

Very interesting and not very stealthy :)
btanExec ConsultantCommented:
Hardware keylogger can hide and avoid having to "answer" any "new device" by the machine. They are build to do that, meaning the USB controller is smart enough to say "I do not exist". Here is one transparent example.

No additional device is showing up, no strange error messages in the log, no different bus addresses for the same device, etc. The only way that I see can make a difference is with additional hardware there is increase in power consumption. But it also need to reconcile the norm working as keyboard can caused additional power consumption from its LED and by hitting keys too..

Maybe elegant solution is to physically secure access those ports. Any tampers need to sound the alarm. Endpoint solutions can usually detect software keyloggers, but hardware keyloggers are tough.

Not the best way, but maybe turn off a computer, and have surveillance cameras to gather evidence while you are not around to deter...
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