Spyware is malicious software that gets installed on a device without user’s knowledge. The main task of spyware is to gather different types of personal information, banking information, and search history without users’ knowledge. The simplest spyware definition is “malware that spies on user’s device”.
How do I get spyware?
Not to fall a victim to spyware, every user should understand how the type of malware can get into their device. In many cases, being careful online will let you stay away from spyware. Users can infect PC clicking on a link which runs the spyware program. Therefore, a visit to an unfamiliar website may infect your PC with a virus.
Your computer may get spyware with files downloaded from file-sharing sites. Sites that distribute movies or music for free often host spyware. You may also download files attached to an email message and spyware will be installed on your computer.
Speaking of OS, Windows is one of the systems more sustainable to attacks. Apple protects end users much better, but it is still not immune. Moreover, in spite of the common misconception mobile devices can also be infected.
Users who know the answer to the question “what is spyware” are better protected against attacks. At the same time, it is worth remembering that new types of spyware programs are developed all the time. To stay safe, it is better to rely on antivirus software that will protect your device.
Spyware is difficult to detect. Often, users remain unaware of spyware for a long period of time. There are some signs PC users should be aware of to detect spyware on their device.
Your device may out of a sudden demonstrate sluggish performance. Unknown icons and search engine different from your default may appear in your browser along with a lot of pop-ups. Some of the error messages may occur while you perform standard operations on your PC. If so, it is better to scan your device and let dedicated programs take care of the malware.
Types of spyware
Malicious software allows hackers to get partial or full control over different types of data. Cybercriminals are interested in personal or banking information. The main types of Spyware include:
- hard disk scanners,
- screen spying programs,
- proxies monitoring tools and spyware,
- mail spying software.
Keyloggers are the most dangerous spyware programs. Hackers use these viruses to receive information about PIN codes, passwords, logins, and other confidential and personal data. They access credit cards, bank accounts, as well as other electronic accounts accessible online.
Keyloggers collect and send their developer information about all the keyboard input on a particular computer. The sad part is you will not notice a spy. And fraudster will use the collected information for personal gain.
There are two types of keyloggers:
– software keyloggers (keyloggers downloaded by a program);
– hardware keyloggers (downloaded to the computer as hardware).
It is easy to detect a hardware keylogger. You can remove spyware with the help of computer programs. It is easy to identify whether any suspicious devices are connected to the outputs of the system or not. The presence of any hardware keylogger can be identified with the help of the Windows Device Manager.
As to software keyloggers, you can detect and remove those by running special programs like Anti-Spyware. Most ativirus packages will protect you from spyware. But antispyware programs can also be installed and run separately.
Hard Disk Scanners
Hard disk scanners monitor hard disks on a user’s computer to detect some types of files. These files are stored in folders in different formats. In some cases, spyware is interested in programs installed by users or any other information that may be useful to the spyware developer.
The main types of files these programs are searching for are TXT files. The most popular names scanners try to find on your computer include “My Passwords”, “Names”, “Phones”, etc. 100% protection against these types of hard disk scanners do not exist. The stolen data is sent to the host computer by the virus.
Proxy Monitoring Tools and Spyware
Proxy spies infect the user’s computers and connect devices to proxy servers. Hackers can use these tools to hide their IP addresses. Spies use the computer of the victim for illegal actions. The owner of the computer on which the spyware program installed itself is responsible for the illegal actions of hackers.
Proxy spyware may send spam messages and mail from the computer of the victim user. Of course, it is not enough for criminal responsibility, but the problems with the provider is an issue.
Mail Spying Software
Email spies collect information about a user’s contacts available in emails. Information is obtained from address books, email clients, organizers and similar software. Then, all this data is sent to the spyware developer. In some cases, hackers can replace the contents of emails and control the information in emails.
Spyware and User Privacy
Cookies help site owners to identify you. Cookie-based identification is not seen as a type of viruses and spyware. Cookies do not violate user privacy. These programs help develops to identify a user and store data associated with a particular IP address. If you are concerned about privacy issues, do not accept the risk and do not allow cookies.
Associated cookies are dangerous because they increase the risks. Associated cookies identify a consumer when they visit any site belonging to a specific group (Twitter and Facebook). These downloaded programs monitor all activities and save the collected data during interaction with each of the users.
Tips to Prevent Spyware
Anti-Spyware programs are the main tools against spy programs and viruses. Spyware removal is not easy. The main task of the antispyware is to recognize viruses and block them.
The simple steps each user may follow to prevent infection of the device are:
- do not open emails from unknown senders,
- do not download files from untrustworthy sites and try to avoid free downloads,
- do not click on pop-up advertisements.
You may change your browser security settings from low to high. It will help you to protect the computer against unwanted downloads and any other actions. You should read the agreement when downloading and running programs. Be mindful. Free downloads inform users about their terms and conditions for data collection.
You should avoid downloading unknown programs and files. The size of the file also matters. If the downloaded image is several hundreds of MB, you may download the image and spyware codes. Installation of unfamiliar browser extensions may contain infected files as well.