When you are on a computer, especially your personal one, you would expect a certain amount of privacy when it comes to passwords, bank info, and where the gold you buried three years ago is located.
What is Spyware?
So, what is Spyware? It is a form of malicious software that looks at what you are doing on your computer or mobile device. It aims to gather data on the person or organization it is targeting without consent and without the user's knowledge. Spyware, (like Adware, Trojans, system monitors and cookies which are all forms of spyware) collects information about your surfing habits, browsing history, or personal information (such as credit card numbers), and often uses the Internet to pass this information along to third parties without you knowing. Spyware can also be referred to as tracking software for this reason.
Many internet users were first introduced to spyware in 1999, when a popular freeware game called "Elf Bowling" came bundled with tracking software. Other notorious types include digital rights management capabilities that "phone home" like key-loggers, rootkits, and web beacons. Phoning home could be for purposes of access restriction, such as transmitting an authorization key. This is done with programs like the Adobe Creative Cloud that need to send back data on the user to prove they own a copy of their software.
So, you do not want to be tracked by people with malicious intent… It may sound a bit blunt, but the best way to avoid getting spyware is to not get it in the first place. It is a very easily avoidable problem with simple knowledge of what to avoid paired with a good antivirus/anti-spyware solution. (We recommend Sophos!)
How to prevent spyware:
- Use antivirus and anti-spyware software.
- Stay up to data with you operating system, antivirus and browser.
- Make sure your browser security and privacy levels are on full-alert.
- Be very cautious if you use file-sharing sites often.
- Never click on pop-up ads.
How to recognize spyware:
Icons that you do not recognize and never installed showing up is a good first indicator that spyware may have been downloaded to your machine. This could be in the taskbar, desktop, while searching etc. Random error messages appearing during normal tasks is another warning sign. The best way though, is to use a spyware scanner included in any spyware removal software.
How to remove spyware:
Spyware removal software, usually bundled with antivirus software, can find and remove any spyware on your device. You can also check 'Programs and Features' for items that do not belong on your computer. If you are lucky enough to have our amazing support team behind your company, we would love to help you out! (And also figure out how if got past our great defenses…)
If you fear the problems that you could be facing after a breach in security,
then apply for a FREE Network Risk Assessment on your company!
You will only be as strong as your weakest link.
Here is a great resource if you want to learn more about this topic…
If you would like to know more about different kinds of Malware check our blogpost over Common Types of Malware.