Spyware is a program that logs your activity. You may encounter several types of spyware that can harm your performance and compromise your privacy, so you must protect your device from them.

Spyware is a type of software that sits on your computer or smartphone and logs your activity. When you have spyware on your device, it tracks what you do and sends it to a central server. Third-party internet service providers, hackers, and scammers exploit this information to their advantage. They can collect data and activities without your or your computer’s knowledge. Spyware, in simpler words, is a type of illegal software that “spies” on you.

How Does Spyware Operates

Criminals and third-party servers distribute spyware in various ways. These programs can come in links sent via emails or text messages, pop-up windows in browsers, and ads on web pages. Cybercriminals can then use spyware to steal your personal information.

In some cases, spyware comes from advertising companies who want to know what you do and how you spend your money online. They use this information to make tailored ads for you based on your browsing activities.

What Are Examples of Spyware?

Like other types of malware and viruses, spyware also has its variations and examples, so you may find it challenging to detect one. Here are the most common examples of spyware:

  • CoolWebSearch or Ebola – a program that finds vulnerabilities in your internet security to hijack your browser, change your user settings, and acquire browsing data.
  • Internet Optimizer – a popular example of spyware that promises to increase internet speeds. Instead, it increases the number of login pages and advertisements on your browser. Some of these are mere ads, while others carry malware and viruses.
  • Password Stealers – these types of powerful spyware can collect any passwords and login credentials saved on your device, then email them to a remote user to access your devices, online accounts, and private data.
  • Gator – spyware that can monitor your browsing and online spending habits to serve you with more tailored ads.
  • Zlob Trojan – a spyware program that records your browsing history and patterns, email activity, and even keystrokes.
  • TIBS Dialer – a modern example of spyware that can connect a computer to a local toll number that only accesses pornographic websites.

Problems Associated With Spyware

Spyware poses many dangers. The biggest threat is that you could face identity theft if a hacker gets access to your accounts and devices. But that’s not all—many spyware programs, even those that came from legitimate applications, use tracking cookies and other legitimate software to monitor what you do online , steal private information, and damage your hardware and software technologies.

Record Keystrokes

Some people think of keyloggers and spyware as separate, but they are not. Keyloggers log your keystrokes and record everything you type on your computer. Some keyloggers save the text to a file on your computer and upload it each day. Other keyloggers send each keystroke to an external server to avoid being tracked.

Keyloggers allow criminals to access your personal data through keystrokes. You could lose your credit card information or social security number if you have no means to detect them. Cybercriminals then use that information to make purchases online and in local stores. In other cases, they sell your personal information to third-party vendors and marketing companies.

Getting your life back on track could take much longer than you think if you fell into a spyware trap. Most credit card companies offer fraud protection on which you can depend. If you face identity theft, they reimburse you for the false charges. Some debit cards don’t provide that level of protection.

Track the Websites You Visit

Spyware monitors the websites you visit. Depending on your computer or smartphone software, spyware tracks your websites and sells the information to advertising companies. While some spyware works by connecting to your web browser, other spyware types use tracking cookies and background programs to record your activities. Marketing firms promoting e-commerce websites use cookies to track, store, and sell information related to your browsing habits.

Decrease Performance

Spyware can also decrease your device’s system performance and cause a range of problems since its surveillance activity utilize processing power. In addition to compromising your data, spyware also slows down your system and causes crashes. You could notice your web browser opening slower than usual when the problem first shows up. You could even notice slower loading speeds when you open other applications.

If you have one spyware program on your computer, you have a decent chance of getting other types of spyware if left unnoticed, so ensure you keep an eye on your system’s performance to avoid that problem. You can use spyware protection and detection tools to nip them in the bud.

Control Your Computer

While some types of spyware only monitor what you do online, others take control of your computer. Be careful with this kind of spyware because it can cause additional complications you might not be aware of. Some spyware can access your microphone and webcam without your knowledge.

Other spyware can go as far as compromising photographs and recording phone calls. There are several international reports that have already discovered spyware taking pictures or recording videos from connected devices.

Protecting Your Device

You can lessen your chance of encountering spyware if you have layers of security protections in place. Remaining vigilant goes a long way toward reaching the outcome you had in mind. Secure your device with reliable security programs, keep updated on the latest cybercrime threats today, and follow our tips below:

Choosing Your Web Browser

Most people don’t give their web browsers much thought. Instead of choosing a licensed and reliable web browser, some use default web browsers without security protection features. Hackers can easily target default web browsers without security features. To protect yourself, double check your default web browser or download a licensed one.

Don’t Click Email Links

Be wary of emails coming from criminals impersonating people you know and legitimate organizations. You will often find emails with links that seem harmless, but they may contain spyware that harms your computer. Some people will send fake emails from an email address you know. So, any time you get a suspicious email link, verify the authenticity of the message by checking the domains, the email address, and the purpose of the email.

Get an Anti-Spyware Program

Don’t move forward without a solid anti-spyware program for your devices. An anti-spyware program works by scanning files and processes on your computer for known spyware signatures. These programs can detect and eliminate spyware programs as soon as they show up on your computer or smartphone.

Stay secure

If you want to protect yourself from viruses and spyware, you need an antivirus solution you can depend on at all times. You may want to consider McAfee Total Protection. It comes with all the features you need to keep spyware and malware off your computer, protect your sensitive information, improve your device’s performance, and prevent cyber attacks. Detecting and eliminating spyware is just one of the many preventive measures to protect your device and data. You need a solid security layer for all external and internal attacks.