What is Spyware?

Tram Ho

In today’s digital world, the risk of data loss and privacy violations is increasing. And in this list of threats, spyware plays an important role. So, what is spyware and why should we care about it? Explore these to protect yourself and your personal information.

What is Spyware?

Spyware is a type of software designed to monitor the activity of a computer or mobile device without the user’s knowledge. The main purpose of spyware is to collect personal information, sensitive data or other information of users to cause harm to users such as blackmail, fraud, etc. Spyware is often installed surreptitiously on computers or mobile devices through means such as phishing emails, malicious websites, or rogue software. After successful installation, spyware will work anonymously and send the collected information back to its creator or related third parties.

Examples of Spyware

FinFisher: Known as a spy tool developed by Gamma International, FinFisher has the ability to track and monitor activities on computers and mobile devices. It can record information like messages, emails, calls, and even the screen.

Pegasus: Is a spyware developed by the company NSO Group. Pegasus gained a lot of attention when it was used to attack and infiltrate iPhone devices through iMessage security holes. It gives attackers access to most activities on the device, including messages, calls, camera, and geo-location.

ZeuS: also known as Zbot, is a malicious spyware and malware used to steal bank account information and personal information. It is often distributed via phishing emails or malicious websites and is capable of recording information such as passwords and user banking information.

DarkComet: is a free spying tool developed by French open source writers. It provides remote monitoring features, including taking screenshots, recording audio, and monitoring keyboard activity.

BlackShades: is a popular spyware used for the purpose of infiltrating and remotely controlling computers. It provides the ability to view the screen, record audio, access the webcam and collect sensitive information.

How does Spyware work?

Activities that spyware can perform include:

  • Intrusion: Spyware is usually installed on a user’s computer or mobile device through intrusive methods such as downloading from unsafe websites, opening unknown email attachments, installing fake software or take advantage of security holes in the operating system or application.
  • Anonymization and injection into the system: Once infiltrated, spyware often tries to anonymize and inject into the system to avoid detection. It can change file names, folders or access permissions, and even create fake processes, services or registry keys to disguise itself.
  • Monitoring and Information Collection: Spyware tracks and records user activities without permission. It can record information such as browsing history, login activity, keystrokes, messages, calls, emails and opened files. Some spyware also has the ability to take screenshots or record videos from the webcam.
  • Passing Information on Spyware Creators: After collecting information, spyware transmits this information back to its creators. Information can be transmitted over a network connection or temporarily stored in files and then sent when an Internet connection is available.
  • Perform unwanted actions: Some spyware has the ability to perform undesired actions on the system. This may include displaying unwanted ads, redirecting the browser to untrusted websites, changing system settings, or even installing and executing other malware.

Harm of Spyware

Spyware can cause significant harm to users and computer systems. Here are some of the main harmful effects of spyware:

Invasion of Privacy: Spyware has the ability to track and collect personal information, including usernames, passwords, bank account information, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. This information may be used for fraudulent purposes, gain unauthorized access to an account, or be shared with an untrusted third party.

**Loss of control: **Spyware can run anonymously and stealthily on a computer system, causing the user to lose control and become unrecognizable of its activity. It can change settings, log activities, and even remotely control computers, severely affecting system stability and performance.

Reduced computer performance: Spyware consumes computer resources and network bandwidth to perform monitoring activities and record data. This leads to a decrease in the performance and speed of the computer, making the system slow and unstable.

Impact on browsing and online experience: Some spyware has the ability to redirect web browsers to unwanted pages or display unwanted advertisements. This is annoying and affects users’ online experience.

Open the door to other threats: Spyware can be a backdoor for the installation of other malware, such as viruses, ransomware, or keyloggers. This can have serious consequences, from encrypting data to stealing personal information or money.

Waste of time and resources: Users must spend time and effort to detect, remove and prevent spyware. Handling and remediating spyware can be time-consuming, frustrating, and resource-intensive.

Signs of being infected with Spyware

Here are some signs that you may have a spyware infection on your computer or mobile device:

Slow computer performance: Your computer or mobile device starts to work slower than usual for no apparent reason. Applications open slowly, response times are long, and system operations become unreliable.

Unwanted Ads: You notice unwanted pop-up ads when you browse the web or use other apps. This could be a sign of a type of spyware aimed at displaying ads or redirecting your browser.

Change browser and homepage: Your web browser is changed without your permission. Home page, default search engine or newly opened pages may be changed to unwanted or promotional pages.

High Resource Consumption: Spyware consumes a lot of system resources, like CPU, memory or network bandwidth. You may find that your computer or mobile device becomes hotter than usual, the fan is noisier, or your network bandwidth is being used excessively for no apparent reason.

Change settings: Settings, system configuration, or security preferences are changed without your permission. In addition, there may appear new icons, utilities or software that you do not remember installing.

Loss of control: Computer or mobile device performs unwanted actions without your intervention, such as sending unknown emails, accessing unwanted websites or installing Applications are not allowed.

Ways to prevent and fight Spyware

Install antivirus and antispyware software: Use a reliable antivirus and antispyware solution to protect your computer or mobile device. Make sure to periodically update to the latest versions and enable regular scanning.

Keep your operating system and applications up to date: Make sure that your operating system and applications on your computer or mobile device are always updated to the latest version. This helps protect against patched security holes.

Use a firewall: Enable a firewall on your computer or mobile device to control network connections and prevent unwanted activity from unknown applications or processes.

Be careful with emails and attachments: Be careful when opening unknown emails or from untrusted sources. Avoid opening attachments from unverified emails or downloading from suspicious websites.

Avoid accessing malicious websites: Restrict access to untrusted websites, websites with malicious content, or websites linked from unknown emails or messages.

Check the origin of software and applications: Download software and applications from trusted sources and check that they are developed by trusted developers. Avoid installing software from unknown or untrusted sources.

Restrict access for apps: Check and grant necessary access permissions only to apps on your computer or mobile device. This helps prevent unwanted apps from accessing your personal data.

Use security-enabled applications: Additional applications such as web browsers with built-in antispyware protection or system activity monitoring tools can be used to detect unwanted activity. want.

Limit providing personal information: Be careful when providing personal information online. Only provide information to highly trusted websites and review their privacy policies before sharing information.

Back up important data: Periodically back up your important data to ensure that you can recover it in case it is lost or encrypted by spyware or other threats.

By learning about what spyware is, you have seen a comprehensive picture of its dangers. These insights have aroused your awareness and vigilance, helping you identify and stop spyware before it causes harm. Follow and read more of my articles. Thank you!

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Source : Viblo