Spyware is used by all types of people, from states to jealous spouses, to secretly gather information and monitor people’s activity without their knowledge.

What is spyware used for?

Spyware is a type of malware that is a broad category of malicious software designed to covertly observe the activity of a mobile device and send those observations to a snooper. This data can be used to track your online activity and to steal personal information, such as account passwords and credit card numbers, which can lead to identity theft and fraud.

The use of this malware seems to be on the rise. According to a recent report from security software maker Malwarebytes, consumer spyware detections increased by 27% between 2017 and 2018. Enterprise detections increased even more: 142% over the same period.

How does spyware work?

Spyware silently infiltrates your devices and starts obtaining important information, such as login details, account credentials and online activities. Internet spyware is secret, so you don’t even know it exists until it takes over your computer. It does not move, continues to monitor your activities and notifies third parties.

What is the purpose of spyware?

While spyware is nothing but malware, its purpose is to steal and collect user data without their consent. Once the information is stolen, it is sent to unknown parties seeking to profit from your data. These third parties may sell or use your data to predict your activities, create a fake online interface, or make you susceptible to a scam.

What are the different types of spyware?

In most cases, spyware’s functionality depends on its authors’ intentions. For example, here are some typical functions designed into spyware:

Password stealers are applications designed to harvest passwords from infected computers. The types of passwords collected can include credentials stored in web browsers, system credentials, and essential passwords. These passwords can be kept in the place chosen by the attacker on the infected machine or transmitted to a remote server to be retrieved.

Banking Trojans (e.g. Emotet) are applications designed to harvest credentials from financial institutions. They take advantage of browser security vulnerabilities to modify web pages, alter the content of transactions, or insert additional transactions, all completely secret and invisible to the user and the host web application. Banking Trojans can target various financial institutions, including banks, brokerage firms, online financial portals, or digital wallets. They can also transmit collected information to remote servers for retrieval.

Info stealers are applications that scan infected computers and look for various information, including usernames, passwords, email addresses, browser history, log files, system information, documents, sheets calculator or other multimedia files. Like banking Trojans, info stealers can exploit browser security vulnerabilities to collect personal information from online services and forums, then transmit that information to a remote server or store it locally on your PC for retrieval.

Keyloggers, also known as system monitors, are applications designed to capture computer activity, including keystrokes, websites visited, search history, email chats, chat rooms, and chat and system credentials. They usually take screenshots of the current window at regular intervals. Keyloggers can also collect functionality, allowing capture and stealth transmission of images and audio/video from any connected device. They can even allow attackers to harvest documents printed on connected printers, which can then be transmitted to a remote server or stored locally for retrieval.

How to remove spyware?

Ensure your system has been cleaned of any infections, so new passwords are not compromised. Getting hold of a robust cybersecurity program known for aggressive spyware removal technology is necessary.

Remember to contact your financial institutions to warn them of possible fraudulent activity. Depending on the compromised information on your infected machine, especially if it is connected to a trade or business, you may be required by law to report the breaches to law enforcement and make a public disclosure.

Many identity theft protection providers advertise their services to monitor fraudulent transactions or freeze your credit account to prevent any activity. Activating a credit freeze is a good idea. If a free identity theft monitoring service as part of a data breach resolution is offered, signing up is no harm. However, purchasing identity theft protection is not recommended.

How to protect against spyware?

Using a signal jammer

Like most malware, the best defence against spyware is a signal jammer. It’s a highly complex device that can block the signals by generating lots of noise. In that way, anyone who wants to use their cell phone within the scope of the jammer will not be able to enter any network, leaving their phone unusable so that it is not used as a spy device.

But today’s signal jammers are not only blocking the cell phone. There have been many innovations and feature updates since its first launch two decades ago. You can use the jammer to block Wi-Fi, GPS, remote control, LoJack, and many more. All of them will help you to fight against spyware.

Good behaviours

It would also help if you were careful for your online behaviours:

  • Do not open emails from unknown senders.
  • Please do not download files unless they are from a trusted source.
  • Hover over links before clicking on them and ensure they lead to the correct web page.
  • Update regularly
  • Use a reputable advanced anti-spyware/anti-malware cybersecurity program that includes real-time protection. Real-time protection automatically blocks spyware and other threats before they can activate on your computer.

The bottom line

The digital every day comes with pervasive dangers in the online landscape. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to protect yourself. Between signal jammers and common-sense precautions, you should be able to safeguard every machine you use from spyware invasions and their malicious intent.

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