Keylogger on Router: How to?

Here’s how to install a keylogger on a router:

You can’t exactly install a keylogger on a router in order to see keystrokes or get information on devices connected to the Wi-Fi.

Instead, you would need to route traffic through some type of server, most likely a proxy server or VPN, and then install the keylogger on that.

From there, you can log a lot.

So if you want to learn all about how keyloggers work exactly, then this article is for you.

Let’s dive right into it!

Keylogger on Router: How to Install? (Everything to Know)

Why Do You Want to Install a Keylogger? (3 Things)

I don’t like to bury answers, but this topic is a little bit different.

Keyloggers can and have been used for a lot of unscrupulous activity over the years.

So before I dive into explaining how you can use one, I need to go over some ethics.

The purpose of a keylogger is to get information about web searches, account information, and passwords.

It’s why they exist. 

That means we have to ask an important question.

What, exactly, do you have planned that you need to install a keylogger on a router?

There are legitimate, ethical use cases for keyloggers.

They aren’t inherently malicious, but because of the propensity for misuse, I feel compelled to talk about ethics and legality before giving instructions.

#1 Time for a Disclaimer

The first thing I want to discuss is legality.

Keyloggers are not inherently illegal, but their use can violate criminal law.

If you do this carefully, you could end up with jail time as a punishment for cybercrime.

So, take a minute and really understand what you’re planning to do.

Here’s the golden rule for the legality of a keylogger.

You can install a keylogger on things you own, and you can track your own activity as much as you want.

That is perfectly legal.

As soon as you install the logger on someone else’s device (without their express permission), you are violating the law.

Similarly, if you were to install a keylogger on a router (we’ll talk more about that later), and an individual connected to your router without knowing about the spyware, then that could potentially be illegal too. 

Things get gray, so I’ll give you some simple advice.

Don’t use a keylogger to spy on anyone or steal.

Use it only for your own ethical purposes, and you should be fine.

#2 Ethical Use Cases

Actually, it might make more sense to talk about those ethical purposes.

What use could a person possibly have for installing a keylogger?

It turns out that they’re pretty useful for security purposes. 

If you are an employer, you can use keyloggers to keep track of what employees are doing while using your equipment.

That is legal.

More importantly, you can use the keylogger to retrace steps and figure out how and when a security vulnerability occurred.

So, if an employee unwittingly downloaded malicious software, you can use the keylogger to try to figure out exactly what happened.

This type of thing can also work in your own home.

Parents can use keyloggers to keep track of what their kids do on their devices.

On top of that, if a kid does get into some trouble on the internet, the keylogger is useful in retracing steps to understand the problem.

These are standard ethical use cases for keyloggers.

#3 Unethical Use Cases

Naturally, a tool can be used nefariously too.

Keyloggers are technically a form of spyware, and as you no doubt know, sometimes people use spyware in bad ways.

The primary unethical use of keyloggers is data theft.

Since the logger keeps track of anything typed on a keyboard, they’re very good at recording usernames and passwords.

Once that information is stolen, it can be used to take over accounts, steal identities, outright rob bank accounts, and more.

The dark corners of your imagination are the only real limits of what harm can be done with unethical keylogging.

Keylogging can also track web searches and outright steal confidential information. 

There are a lot of bad ways to use this stuff, and that’s why I started with the disclaimer.

Now, I’m going to explain how they work and how you can use them, but as you might have guessed, I’m going to focus on ethical applications.

If you’re trying to figure out how to steal a friend’s password for a funny prank, I won’t be walking you through those steps.

How Do Keyloggers Work? (3 Concepts)

With all of that said, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of keyloggers.

Specifically, these are tools that copy and record the keystrokes made via a keyboard.

This can be done in two ways.

You can use hardware, or you can use the software.

With hardware, you need a physical device between the keyboard and the computer.

When a key is pressed on the keyboard, it sends a digital signal to the computer, but the keylogger is there to record the signal along the way.

Spoiler alert: this doesn’t work with loggers.

Since you don’t plug a keyboard into a router, you can’t use a physical keylogger with a router.

The other type of keylogger is software-based.

In this case, the software is able to read the keyboard inputs when they are sent to the computer.

If you want to learn more about the mechanics of how that works, this explanation gets into some of the finer details.

A software keylogger will record the inputs that it sees, and it usually sends that information along to a predetermined destination.

In the case of malicious logging, the information will be sent to a secured server somewhere.

If you’re doing this yourself, you can make a destination folder on the very computer you’re logging.

You can then review those logs any time you want.

How Do You Install a Keylogger on a Router?

At long last, we can get into the original question.

How do you install this on a router so you can see Wi-Fi activity and other stuff?

The short answer is that you can’t.

As I said before, you don’t plug keyboards into a router, so it doesn’t make any sense to try to install a keylogger on a router.

And, that’s the more honest answer.

You could probably find a way to make a software keylogger for a router, but it wouldn’t do anything.

You can’t use a keylogger on a router to see keystrokes from devices that use that Wi-Fi network.

That’s just not how this works.

But, I said that some businesses use keyloggers for security purposes.

What’s that all about?

It comes down to the fact that you can use alternative methods to put a keylogger on a network.

The real mechanisms are a little more complicated than just installing something on your router, so I’ll take you through those concepts now.

#1 Proxy Servers

If you want to log keystrokes from network traffic, then you need some type of computer to manage that traffic.

There are two ways to do this: proxy servers and VPNs.

While these are very different setups with different purposes, using a keylogger with either is actually pretty similar to the other, so I’m going to lump this into a single explanation.

Before I do, please understand one thing about keyloggers and VPNs.

You can only do this if you build and run the VPN.

You can’t run a keylogger on a VPN service that you pay for.

That’s not what’s happening here.

With that covered, if you want to use a keylogger on a network server, you first need to route your traffic through that server.

That’s what both proxy servers and VPNs do.

They allow you to funnel internet traffic through a middleman device.

Setting them up is its own thing, so here are tips to set up a proxy server or your own VPN.

Once that part is set up, then all you need to do is install the keylogger on the server.

It will be able to log any keystrokes that are sent through it to interact with websites.

It’s important to understand the limitations of this method.

You won’t be logging keystrokes from every activity on a connected computer.

So, you can’t see the password someone uses to log into their own laptop.

You can only see keystrokes that interact with web traffic, such as the name and password when you log into a website.

#2 Login Servers

Another option is to use a central log-in server.

This really applies to small businesses more than anything else, but I’ll explain it in general terms.

With a central log-in server, you have one server that manages a bunch of other devices that connect to it.

So, if you had a small office building, you could have multiple computer workstations set up in the office.

Each one of them logs into the server for work. 

By setting it up this way, the server does most of the heavy lifting, so the workstations don’t have to be as powerful.

You can also get software licenses for this setup that provide a cheaper way to give everyone in the office access to whatever software they need.

Assuming you use a central log-in server, adding a keylogger is again pretty easy.

Just install it on the server.

From there, it can log all keystrokes of any device that is uploading to the server.

So, you can actually see the keystrokes from a lot of activities on any workstation in the office.

This still isn’t perfect.

Each workstation should be able to do some things that don’t run through the server, and you won’t be logging any of those keystrokes.

But, any activity that does run through the server can be logged.

This can include all internet activity and anything done on software that is run by the server.

In all, you can keep an eye on a lot this way.

#3 The Third Way

Technically, there’s a third way to keylog all devices on a network, but it crosses deep into malicious behavior territory.

I won’t be teaching it here.

Instead, this is a warning.

Keyloggers can be distributed to devices via a network, so always be wary when you use open networks.

Someone could try to send you a keylogger, and if you aren’t paying attention, it could mean bad news.

If you want tips for spotting unwanted keyloggers on your devices, check out this guide.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.