Spyware is actually a malicious software that can be added onto your computer without you knowing. As its name suggests, it exists to spy on you and to gather as much valuable information from you. This collection of information will then be sent to others so they can use it in whatsoever ways they want it, without you being aware and your permission.
What data does spyware have the ability to collect? ANYTHING! Your habits of surfing the internet, your user logins for social networking sites, email accounts, and much worse – your credit card or bank account details. There are even types of spyware that have the ability to change your computer, install software, change settings, redirect browsers, and slow down your internet connection.
Here is a more thorough explanation on how spyware collects your data, since spyware comes in several shapes and various purposes.
- Record the keystrokes. This type of spyware is called keyloggers and its purpose is to collect your passwords as well as track the communications that come from using the keyboard
- Tracking of online activities. There are tracking cookies that can arguably be considered to be a spyware since they will track your activities online and even report to advertisers what you have visited; in this way, advertisers can now serve you with the most relevant information.
- Take over the control of your device. This is a form of Trojan spyware and it has the ability to change your security settings so the culprits can now remotely control your device.
It’s quite difficult to immediately notice that there’s a malicious spyware running on your device since this malware tends to just be working discreetly in the background and the program’s overt quality and functionality may seem very appealing. Spyware is often spread as freeware or shareware with just minor license limitations in order to lure as many users as possible.
Signs that your device has been infected include undesirable behaviors as well as degradation of your system performance. This is because Spyware can eat up your CPU capacity, usage of disk including network traffic. You will also encounter stability issues like your applications suddenly freezing, having a hard time connecting to the internet, failure booting your device and your system often crashing
How Can You Protect Yourself From Spyware
Here are some of the best ways you can keep yourself protected against spyware:
- Never unwittingly install anything. The greatest way you can get spyware under control is by never allowing it to get onto your computer. This means you should not download any programs and you should not click on email attachments without verifying it. Sometimes, even an email from your best friend that looks harmless or a reputable website can be compromised and then infect your computer. Fortunately, there are a lot of shareware downloading sites today that test the programs being submitted to them and provide the guarantee that their archives are spyware-free. The more established the sites are, the more you can rely upon since they have their name to maintain. It is highly recommended that you only download from these trustworthy software sites, no matter how tempting the deals being provided by the less popular ones. You can read reviews about a downloading site to help you pick which among is the safest.
- Have an anti-spyware tool installed in your device? There are a lot of high-quality tools that you can install to keep you protected against anti-spyware, there are even some that come for free. There are some that will just be endlessly running in your background, without slowing your system; they mostly do an excellent job. These tools are also being updated regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest emerging spyware.
- Take some time to read those licensing agreements. I know it can really be a daunting task to read those agreements, but it is the best way we can play safe. So next time, whenever you will install freeware, don’t ever just keep on scrolling until you reach the bottom page where you can click the button that says “I accept”, but you rather carefully read every agreement and search for language that pertains to any activity that gathers information. You might be getting a software that comes with spyware in addition to your freebie.
- Be careful of those clickable advertisements. As much as possible, stay away from programs, especially those freeware that keeps on flashing clickable advertisement. These persistent ads should already be a red flag; clicking them can possibly allow someone to watch how you are responding online.
- You should know that free will never be free. This mostly happens to free apps, whenever you download them and receive their services, you somewhat agree trade track. Since you are no longer paying for the app, you implicitly agreed to receive targeted ads. Most of the companies have to track your activities online so they can determine which ads they should show you.
We have to accept that spyware is here to stay, we can we only do is to take control and this can only be done by deciding what should get in and what should stay out of your computer.
Not all programs that collect data are spyware. This is why it is important that you fully understand what data will be collected and to whom these programs are sharing this data. We are also fortunate enough to be living in the century where several spyware programs are available; they will be able to scan your computer and detect if there are malicious tracking happening in the background.