What Is Spyware And How Does It Work?

what is spyware and how does it work.

What Is Spyware And How Does It Work?


What is Spyware


Ever heard that a country can spy on its citizens or record their online activities without being noticed. Want to know how they can do it? Yes, it's spyware. So what is spyware? How does it work? And what can you do to protect your PC, laptop, and other devices from this malicious software?


Also Read: 15 Most Dangerous Computer Viruses In The World

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What is Spyware?

2. How Does Spyware Work?

3. How to Protect Computers From Spyware Threats?

4. 1. Use Default Antivirus

5. 2. Don't Visit Untrustworthy Websites

6. 3. Use Professional Antivirus

7. 4. Don't Open Unknown Emails

8. 5. Avoid Downloading Using Torrents

9. 6. Keep Operating System Update

10. 7. Download Applications From Third Party Sites

11. Conclusion


What is Spyware?


Spyware is a type of malware that is used to steal someone's sensitive information, and send it to another person or organization without that person's permission. This malware can also be used to steal other people's identities. The information stolen varies, it can include bank account details, usernames and passwords, even other people's online browsing activities. Generally, spyware is used by hostile countries, government agencies, or private companies to monitor their targets.


Spyware had taken center stage in the tech world around the mid-1990s, when it was mostly used by private companies to monitor user data for marketing purposes. Since then, as the world has become more connected, spyware has become more common, as have the types of agents that use it.


In fact, as per the MIT Technology Review report, there are even legal private businesses involved in providing surveillance services through spyware, which make huge profits by tracking journalists and political activists around the world.

Also Read: 3 Things To Check After Removing Malware From PC


How Does Spyware Work?


Remember that spyware is the opposite of computer viruses. Which means the spyware doesn't damage files or interfere with the victim's PC. It's more subtle than that. The main purpose of spyware is to secretly monitor a person's information and then pass all that information back to its creator or sometimes to a third party. So, a crashed computer might even be counterproductive to its purpose, as it might make you unable to run your system, and in turn, make the spyware unable to do what it was designed to do, which is to steal your data.


Spyware sneaks into the system secretly, masquerading as only secure software. Other times, when you visit an infected website, it will run a script, which will prompt your browser to download spyware to your device. Historically, this has happened frequently with Internet Explorer, a browser notorious for its security holes. This makes Windows an easy target for all kinds of online threats, including spyware.


Like most security vulnerabilities, spyware infiltration is most likely to be found on systems running Windows. It could be due to its initial design flaws, or it might be the unintended result of having the largest market in desktop operating systems, but if you are running Windows, you should always be vigilant. For example, let's look at keylogging. This is a type of spyware that as the name suggests keeps logs of your typing to steal your sensitive data, such as card or bank details, usernames, and passwords.


The keylogger steals the information you enter via the keyboard, and does so silently, recording everything you type. Keylogging is just one type of spyware. There are many other types of spyware out there. Now that you know how spyware works, let's now take a look at some possible preventive measures.


How to Protect Computer From Spyware Threats?


We probably already know that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, here are some ways to prevent spyware.


1. Use Default Antivirus


If you are a Windows user, use Windows Defender antivirus. Previously called Windows Defender, this is a free antivirus tool created by Microsoft that can deal with low-level threats. If you're running a Mac, you can use XProtect, Apple's version of the antivirus Defender.


2. Don't Visit Untrustworthy Websites


Surprisingly, there are many websites that just spread malware. When you visit a malicious website, it may silently install spyware on your PC, either through advertisements, pop-ups, or by drive-by downloads. Your browser may notify you if the site you are visiting is dubious or insecure, especially if there is no SSL certificate, i.e. the URL is displayed as HTTP instead of the preferred HTTPS.


3. Use Professional Antivirus


Dedicated third-party antiviruses are the best way to protect yourself from all kinds of online threats, including spyware. Some of them are available for free, but don't be afraid to shell out some cash for a decent antivirus as this is your first line of defense.

4. Don't Open Unknown Emails


After browsing malicious websites, opening or downloading attachments from unknown emails is the second biggest cause of spyware infections. Delete any suspicious emails you receive, or at the very least, don't download any attachments.


5. Avoid Downloading Using Torrents


Admins understand. Who doesn't love free and unlimited TV shows and games? What most users don't realize, however, is that their favorite torrent sites are hotbeds of malicious programs such as malware, worms, viruses, and other malicious programs. Therefore you can save yourself a lot of trouble by avoiding torrent sites.


6. Keep Operating System Update


Malicious hackers are always looking for new loopholes in computer systems. Therefore, manufacturers regularly release new updates with fixes for common bugs and security vulnerabilities. If you haven't updated your operating system or the updates are disabled, update now!


7. Download Applications From Third Party Sites


You have to do some creative work, maybe edit videos or images, and now, you need an app that has more complex features. Paid apps may not be suitable for everyone, so people download free pirated versions from third-party websites.


These free websites, however, also need to make money, so they may install spyware or adware along with free apps to make a quick buck. Plus, with so many open source alternatives for almost all popular apps, you don't need to download pirated apps.


Conclusion


So what is spyware? Spyware is a type of malicious software that tries to sneak into your system, and once there, it steals your sensitive data and sends it to the creators. While there are many ways to remove malicious software such as spyware, it is better to follow proper security measures, and avoid spyware infiltration altogether.

Hopefully, this article about What Is Spyware And How Does It Work?, gives you a little insight. Also, read an article about What is SQL Injection: How it Works, Examples, and Types that you may need to know. Thank you.

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