Keylogging & Divorce

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

Keylogging is the use of either software or hardware to secretly monitor the keystrokes made on a keyboard. Once installed, it can record nearly every action made on the computer. Being able to record keystrokes provides a wealth of information, including websites visited, logins and passwords, financial account numbers, emails sent, instant messaging records, and many other forms of electronic communication. It’s not hard to see how valuable that information can be if attained by a criminal or a spouse leading up to a divorce.

Keylogging can be difficult to detect without scanning the computer for viruses or manually searching every directory on the computer. You might notice the computer is running slower than usual since it’s trying to record everything, or otherwise acting unusual. If someone installed a hardware component, there would be something plugged into the computer that wasn’t there before. If you suspect someone of using this kind of technology to track your PC use, here are a few things to know to help protect yourself.

  • The keylogger records what’s typed. If you don’t type your password or login info, it can’t record it. Using a password manager, like Truekey, LastPass, or Dashlane, works as a preventative measure to have before a keylogger is installed.
  • When available, use two-factor authentication. This is becoming more and more popular since it’s an easy way to add another layer of protection to prevent an intruder from getting into your accounts. This feature should be utilized by any programs or accounts that offer it. This can be anything from your email or bank account sending you a text with a verification code or an authenticator app that generates a random code every few seconds that you would need to login.
  • Be cautious of unfamiliar websites and email attachments. Keylogging programs can be quickly installed without permission from an infected attachment or website link.
  • Use an Antivirus Protection Program. Programs like Bitdefender, Webroot, and Symantec can regularly scan and protect your data from harmful programs.

The legal aspect to using keyloggers to implicate a cheating spouse is unclear at the moment. While it is certainly illegal to use this on another person’s computer without permission, putting it on a ‘family’ computer asks questions that haven’t been fully answered yet. There are two Federal laws that come into play here:

Title 1 of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act states that anyone who “intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral or electronic communication” faces criminal and/or civil liability.

Title 2 imposes criminal and civil liability to those who intentionally gain unauthorized access to electronic communication held in electronic storage.

There are also similar state laws that address computer related crimes. Since keylogging has the potential to violate these laws it is advisable to consult with your attorney about use of this technology.  Using keylogging spyware for the interception of electronic communication (e-mail or texts) or reading stored e-mails is a crime and the use of the information gained from this criminal activity is inadmissible as evidence in court.   However, these systems are frequently used in divorces and your communications can potentially be read by your spouse or former spouse.

We advise our clients, during a divorce, to be very cautious regarding their on-line activity and to have their computers cleaned by an expert or to purchase a new computer.

  • Author
  • Recent Posts
John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

Latest posts by John Schutz (see all)

  • Is a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage a Viable Option? - October 29, 2019
  • What are the Types of Alimony in Florida? - October 19, 2019
  • Property Division In Florida - October 8, 2019

Is a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage a Viable Option?

While most view the holidays as being largely idyllic —[...]

Study: More Likely to Divorce if First Child is a Girl

A new study from the University of Melbourne suggests that[...]

Preparing For Divorce In 2018: What You Can Do Now

The month of January is often referred to as “divorce[...]

Share To: