Malware and government spying could be taking the lion’s share of the current privacy conversations, but one virus type that has been infecting computers is spyware for a long time.
Every time you go online, the worst thing you can do is to assume that you’re secure. Prying eyes are always on the lookout and could be following your activity via spyware.
So, what’s spyware?
Spyware simply infects your device secretly and initiates a plethora of illegal activities that include data breach and identity theft. As much as it seems to be a James Bond gadget, spyware is a malware type that will gather almost everything about you.
Think about the sites you regularly visit, the files you download, your passwords and usernames, emails received and sent, and even your payment information.
Even worse, spyware is sneaky and will always find its route into your device without your permission or even knowledge, and it attaches to the computer’s operating system.
Interestingly, you might be permitting it yourself without knowing when you agree to some terms and conditions of a program without going through the fine print.
If you wish to read an in-depth piece on who is spying on your phone and how to detect & remove spyware, we recommend you to read the detailed guide on the topic at Privacy Savvy. That’s one online privacy center we found worth looking at!
So, whichever the way spyware can manage to get into your computer, the results are worse, and identifying it is not a walk in the park. Moreover, in case you recognize its presence, it doesn’t have a straightforward, uninstall feature.
To help you stay at the top of your privacy game, here’s everything you need to know about spyware;
How you can get spyware
Like other malware, spyware can also infect your system the same way. The most common means that spyware can get into your computer include;
Security vulnerabilities, such as exploits and backdoors.
Spoofing and phishing – criminals can lure you into clicking on a link that will get you to a malware website or open an email that will give spyware into your computer.
Trojans – when malware pretends to be something different, then it’s a Trojan. When cybercriminals use them, they become dangerous and can be used to introduce viruses and ransomware.
- Third-party application
- Clicking on advertisement pop-ups
- Downloading pirated material
Now that you know all the possible spyware routes into your computer, it’s better to learn various spyware types.
Types of spyware
Usually, the functionality of a spyware threat depends on the author’s intentions. Therefore, as much as there are several spyware types, each attacks their victims differently. The most common spyware include;
Trojans – they’re malicious software that is usually controlled by data snoopers and cybercriminals. All they do is infecting your device and then steal sensitive information like credit card information, passwords, and social security numbers. What makes them hard to detect is the fact that they disguise themselves as legitimate software.
Bank Trojans – they are designed to gather your financial information and usually take advantage of your browser security vulnerability to modify the web pages, transaction content, and even insert additional transactions.
Keyloggers, also known as system monitors, are designed to capture your computer activity, including websites visited, keystrokes, search history, chat room dialogue, email discussions, and system credentials. Usually, they present themselves as freeware.
Adware – it’s a type of spyware that first comes harmless and collects personal information like your downloads and browser history. It’s meant to deliver target ads but will significantly affect your system and even make it work slower.
So, when all is said and done, nobody is immune from the spyware attacks, and criminals will infect anybody as long as they get what they want.
So, how will you detect spyware infection?
How to detect and remove spyware
Just like it’s difficult to detect malware, getting rid of it is equally challenging. First, it requires that you recognize that your device has been infected. But how will you know that there’s a spyware attack?
The following clues will help you to know that your device has been compromised;
- When your devices show an increase in sluggishness as well as slow response
- Your batteries running out too quickly
- When you’re a recipient of unusual or odd social media messages or emails
- New search engines, internet home pages, and toolbars that you can’t remember installing
- Difficulty when you try to log into secure sites
- Anti-virus or other safety software always not working.
- An inexplicable increase in data usage or the bandwidth use
- Clogged up memory
- Browser redirects
Therefore, once you realize such clues, it could be the right time to install anti-malware software in your device. But since your device has already been compromised, it’s better first to remove spyware, and here is how you can go about it.
When any of the signs show up, you can use a removal program and then scan for spyware. After that, you can remove it.
However, it should be clear that removing spyware is not an easy task, but with the following steps, you can walk it out of your device.
- The first thing is to delete all the suspicious files and apps manually or take the recommendations from a spyware scanning app.
- Set your device into safe mode and then uninstall the spyware
- You can also use robust malware as well as spyware removal software such as Avast free spyware removal tool, but it should be from a reputable source.
- You can opt for the last option of setting your device to a factory setting.
- Perform a second scan in case there’s a spyware remnant surviving after reinstalling
Up to that point, you should be clear of spyware from your device. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t have another spyware attack. Therefore, there’re some tips to help you stay away from spyware as much as possible.
Protection against spyware
The best defense always starts with user behavior. Therefore, to ensure that you stay clear of spyware, follow the following tips;
- Never open emails from senders that you’re not aware of
- Only download files from trusted sources
- Always use secure web browsers
- Mouse-over any link before clicking and ensure that they’re from a right webpage
- Use the right cybersecurity program when countering advanced spyware
There’s no denying that the consequences as a result of spyware attacks can be devastating. Apart from privacy abuse, they can lead you into a financial crisis. Therefore, better take early caution via anti-malware software before it gets too late.