As the name suggests, Spyware is a type of spying software.
Specifically, Spyware is a kind of malware that is deployed to keep track of activities on a computer and gather information without the user’s consent.
The main motive of a spyware program is to monitor activity and send it to the developer (hacker) discreetly. It works completely in the background without the user noticing its presence on their computer system.
Spyware usually gathers information about the demographics of a user and their behavior on the internet by tracking the webpages they have visited for advertising purposes. This data, once collected by a hacker, is then sold to companies that can use it for marketing purposes.
However, this problem can go deeper. Spyware can also steal personal and confidential information like credit card details or a user’s online account passwords.
It violates the end user’s privacy and opens the door for potential abuse benefitting the hacker.
How Do You Know If Spyware Is On Your Computer?
Spyware generally does not make any kind of visual indication that would notify its presence to an unsuspecting user. It works behind the scenes without anyone noticing and carries out its job faithfully.
Confirming the presence of Spyware on a computer is difficult, if not impossible. Some indications that can be used as a baseline measure to confirm its presence include:
- A slowdown in a computer’s speed, as the additional hidden program (spyware) is using up the system’s resources.
- An increase in internet bandwidth usage, as spyware transmits information over the internet.
- A reduction in the battery life of laptops or other mobile devices.
While these are probable signs, they do not necessarily confirm that spyware is on your computer.
Antivirus programs are often bypassed by sophisticated spyware programs, so they are not always reliable.
Running an anti-spyware program is the best way to detect spyware on a computer. And you can try out a proven anti-malware solution like MalwareFox, which is designed to detect and remove spyware.
It is a complete anti-malware suite and its spyware scanner can locate – and wipe out – any spy program hiding under the hood.
How Does Spyware Get Installed?
Spyware often comes bundled with a free software product. It is a hidden component that gets installed along with another legitimate program.
They can even come attached to an ebook or a movie downloaded from untrusted sources.
What Are Some Spyware Examples?
FinFisher is a type of spyware that made it into the news a few years ago. It gets installed as a fake software update, a fake email attachment, or through a flaw in a software program. It was presented as software to fight against crime, however, it turned out that it was a criminal in disguise itself. It reportedly tapped Skype calls and monitored computer usage without a user’s consent.
Spyware could also come as a rootkit like Look2me, which hides inside system-critical processes and starts up even when a computer is operating in safe mode. Since there is no visible program process running, stopping it can be impossible for most anti-spyware programs.
How To Remove Spyware?
Before you try to remove spyware from your system, it is essential to know what is hiding beneath the surface.
- Open the Windows task manager to check running processes.
- Scroll through the list of program processes, and look out for any suspicious activity.
- If found, right click on it and go to the suspicious process’ location.
- Delete the file responsible for running the spyware program.
That’s one way you can get rid of a spyware program, but you would need to have an owl’s eye and some knowledge about Windows’ processes to remove it effectively. Otherwise, you will end up deleting some legitimate programs or simply not finding something dangerous that’s still lurking within the system.
In such case, you should use tried and tested anti-malware programs to detect and remove spyware from your computer. They have a database of known spyware in cyberspace and even have the ability to detect unknown ones by analyzing their behavior.
How to Prevent Spyware
As I said, since it is difficult to notice their presence, a user often finds out too late that there is spyware hiding in their computer system. So, prevention is a must.
- Ensure that your browser, operating system, and software have the latest updates and security patches.
- Set your browser security and privacy settings to the highest levels.
- Use extreme caution if you’re using file-sharing sites frequently.
- Don't click on pop-up ads.
- Use Anti-virus and Anti-Spyware programs.
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