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A quick question: I use on-screen keyboard when entering my bank passwords, credit card numbers, etc., in an effort to guard against malware. Is this a good idea or am I wasting my time? Some internet banking website have an on-screen keyboard for entering in a password are these any more secure?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The built-in on-screen keyboard that comes with many operating systems is designed to help people who are unable to use a physical keyboard because of disabilities. Due to this, an on-screen keyboard behaves as much like a real keyboard as possible and it's activity will most likely be logged by a keylogger.

On-screen keyboards specifically designed for security (on a bank's website, for example) are a different story and are likely more secure against keyloggers.

http://www.viruslist.com/en/analysis?pubid=204791931

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Thank you, I had an inkling but I wasn't sure but “More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity” –  Matt 'Trouble' Esse Aug 27 '09 at 2:12

Using an on-screen keyboard would make your password readable by people with no connection to your computer. :D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Eck_phreaking

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TEMPEST#Public_research

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Note that an OSK is not secured against things that also track mouse movements, though figuring out what you clicked is much harder. I like to keep parts of my password in autohotkey hotstrings. (because "password" is so much easier to work out than "p66j#wokk#d")

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If your OSK changes its layout every few characters--which is annoying, mouse movements become harder to track--now images of the screen have to be saved too. –  Broam Dec 11 '09 at 16:40

On-screen keyboards prevent a keyboard dongle from recording your keystrokes. There are other methods for recording keystrokes an on-screen keyboard will not prevent, though.

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The bank ones that I've seen tend to move the keyboard button position around a bit on each login so the relative mouse position changes, making it hard to know what buttons a user clicked on. –  Matthew Lock Dec 18 '09 at 5:40

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