In a connected world, people can do anything they want to form a device such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. These devices have made it incredibly easy for us to stay entertained, work from anywhere in the world, and even connect with other people on the opposite side of the planet instantly.
However, one element has been diminishing as technology has grown to take over our modern world — privacy. Wherever we go, and whatever we do, we are almost always being watched and monitored, whether it’s the government, multi-million dollar companies, or (even worse) cybercriminals.
In recent years there has been a rise in the use of spyware, which, as the name suggests, is used to invade the victim’s privacy. You might be wondering: what is spyware and is it dangerous? We’re going to be exploring that down below. Don’t worry though, it’s not all doom and gloom, we’ll also be talking you through how you can make sure your devices are secure, so make sure you keep reading till the end!
What is Spyware
One of the biggest concerns in recent years is the sudden spike in cybercrime all around the world. Cybercriminals are using malicious software to infect and infiltrate their victims’ devices. Malware (as it’s known for short) is a big problem in our modern society, but many people focus on viruses when talking about malware when in fact, there are bigger concerns that they might need to focus on.
Malware is a broad term and it includes many different types of software that you may encounter on your device. One of these is spyware, and it is arguably one of the most dangerous forms of malware that can often be overlooked by many people. Spyware can not only invade your privacy, but it can also be a threat to your security too.
Spyware is a type of malware that is used to monitor your online activity. Different types of spyware can be found out there, and each one is tailored to track a specific thing on your device. For example, password stealers are used to gather passwords that have been saved on your web browser, whereas keyloggers can record your device’s activity such as keystrokes, websites you visit, email correspondence, and it can sometimes even take screenshots of your activity.
These are only two examples of the spyware that you could encounter on your device. You could still face banking trojans, infostealers, and browser hijackers. Each of these different types of spyware has a unique goal, and each one is used by the cybercriminal in different ways.
How can Cybercriminals Use Spyware to Their Advantage?
Aside from the obvious password stealing spyware, you might be confused as to how a cybercriminal would use other forms of spyware to their advantage. For example, infostealers mostly gather data about the websites that you have been visiting recently — this information can be better than gold for a cybercriminal though.
If a cybercriminal can track which websites you visit often they’ll be able to gauge what your interests are. This will help them to perfect the phishing scams that they could send to you, which will help them to install even more malware on your devices such as viruses and even ransomware.
Phishing scams have been around for decades, but cybercriminals have realized that most internet users are catching on to them. Gone are the days of simple emails urging you to interact with a link or attachment. Modern phishing scams have become much more intricate and precise — kind of like an art form that takes time to perfect in a way.
Hackers now use social engineering to impersonate a person or company that you might know and trust, which makes it much more likely that the victim will take the bait and interact with the fraudulent link or attachment that they have been sent.
This is where spyware comes in handy for cybercriminals. By monitoring your online activity, a hacker can see which people and companies you interact with. For example, they could send an email impersonating your bank. Cybercriminals will craft the perfect email by using the same logos and color schemes that your bank uses, which would trick any unsuspecting victim into interacting with the link or attachment in the email.
How to Protect Your Devices Against Spyware
Spyware is difficult to spot on your device, but some tell-tale signs could give you a clue as to whether or not your device has been infected with spyware. You should be on the lookout for any of these red flags, and if your device has suffered from one or more of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to get your device checked out.
The signs you need to look out for are consistent freezing or crashing, slower performance and overheating, pop-up ads, browser issues, and even files appearing or disappearing from your device. Some of these symptoms (such as slow performance) could be caused by other factors such as your device’s age for example.
However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to any kind of malware, and you should consider investing in premium cybersecurity measures that will help to protect your device against spyware, and many other forms of malware.
The answer is premium antivirus software. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any viruses and other forms of malware, and it can take action to remove them from your device. You need to make sure that the antivirus software you install on your device is capable of removing other forms of malware such as spyware, which is why it’s important to do thorough research before you install the antivirus software on your device.
You also need to ensure that your login credentials are stored safely rather than on the default password manager you have on your browser or your device. Consider investing in a premium password manager to securely store your strong and unique passwords and prevent them from being stolen.