What Is Spyware and How to Prevent It
Malicious software has been around for as long as the internet has existed. From all sorts of viruses to malware and spyware, each of them destructive and dangerous in their own way. In the past, spyware wasn’t particularly something internet users were afraid of. However, in the last few years this technology has resurfaced, and now represents a grave concern for online security.
In order to fight back, you need to first understand what spyware stands for.
What is Spyware?
It’s a term used to describe a certain type of malicious software that infects your device and collects valuable information on you. It does this without your knowledge, and you won’t even notice it because it silently runs in the background while you use your phone or computer.
The worst thing about this is that spyware, as the name suggests, literally spies on everything you do. The malicious software accumulates a broad range of information from your internet usage, distinct keystrokes, and data such as personal emails, passwords or credit card information. To make matters worse, spyware can even screenshot your activity, and send it to the receiver that is behind this. It’s essential to note that not all spyware is extremely dangerous. Some of it is used by advertisers, in order to collect information and efficiently target their audience based on what they open on the internet. This isn’t even illegal, and you usually agree on this while consenting to the Terms of Services without ever reading them.
Others, however, are much more dangerous than this and can gravely harm your privacy.
If this was convincing enough to understand that spyware is a serious matter, and you are a potential victim, now you need to learn how to prevent it from happening. But first, let’s see what type of spyware exists. You might be surprised to find that some of it is very common.
Types of Spyware
There are several types of spyware, and they can all fit into these four major categories:
You’ve probably heard of this one before, especially because they are very hard to avoid. Luckily for you, they are also not particularly harmful. Tracking cookies are often used by advertising agencies, and they track your online activity in order to customize the data you see online. For example, if you are interested in cryptocurrency and you recently started exploring them, you will soon notice that ads with related content are targeting you, whether it's on your social media accounts or on the websites you visit. Even though they are not exactly harmful, tracking cookies are shunned by people who value complete online privacy.
Similar to the previous one, adware is close connected to ads and advertising campaigns. It’s that annoying video that pops up while playing online games, or in your browser. They are more intrusive compared to tracking cookies and can sometimes be dangerous. For example, when they install into your system and track everything up to the information you have stored on your hard drive.
If you download free software without being precautious, there is a high chance that you will eventually stumble across this type of software. System monitors are also spyware, and they can track almost everything you do on your computer. The best way to protect yourself from this type of software is to always read the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Statements and User Agreements prior to installing an app.
There is no need to explain the dangers of getting infected by a Trojan on your device. You probably know this term as a virus that can compromise your computer, but one type precisely is regarded as spyware. The Infostealer Trojan, once into your device, can damage it and gain full control, including valuable information such as your bank account credentials.
How to protect yourself?
There are a few things that you can do.
However, one of the best ways to fight back from spyware is with the proper technology. In this case, it’s best to have very reliable anti-malware software. It’s best if you invest money in one that is more secure than to download a basic, free alternative. Instead, there are many other options and you can choose one according to your preferences. Some are faster, others have more system resources. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make a choice. But first, make sure you do proper research on the topic.
Additionally, if you also want to prevent online tracking, a Virtual Private Network could be of great help to you. We suggest going with one that has advanced security and a zero log policy. It’s an excellent tool that will keep your traffic encrypted and keep you anonymous and secure while browsing the web.
These are all preventative ways to stop spyware from attacking your device. But what happens if you are already under an attack?
In that case, you are left with a few alternatives.
First of all, you need to reboot your system while on safe mode. This process is different depending on the device, so make sure you first establish how to do this. When you are in safe mode, and keep in mind you also need to stay disconnected from the internet, the system will run only the essential programs, allowing you to see whether a spyware was affecting your device by slowing down the system.
Sometimes the problem, as well as the solution, are right in front of our eyes, but we cannot see it. Another thing you can do is to delete temporary files. By doing this you are possibly going to remove some forms of spyware on your device.
Last but not least, an anti-malware tool can also help in this situation. Not only it can prevent malicious software, but it also works as a clean-up tool. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the best option you have. If you suspect something, immediately run a hard scan on your device, which will point out the problem and then resolve it.
Unfortunately, they are not 100% effective. Sometimes it’s all up to you and your internet habits. Always use your common sense, and be careful what you click on or install over the internet.
If you need additional help, make sure you leave a comment in the comment section below.