Introduction:

Spyware is always around you, spying on things that you do and how you do them. They are around you screen right now, but they just haven’t entered your system yet. What is it, may you ask? You’re here to find out!

                                                                        spyware

What Is It?

Spyware is a computer program that is downloaded along with software with your permission. It then tracks your screen, what you do, and takes your information. It can also come along in attachments in emails.  A couple examples of what spyware can do to your computer are:

  1. Monitoring Your Web Browsing – Spyware can be used to monitor your search history and web browsing to show you more personalised pop-up ads that suit your personality, making you want to click it more. When you click the ad, it may take you to a page where they start taking your personal information. These ads are called adware. You can read more about adware in another article: What Is Adware?
  1. Collecting Information – This is scary but true. Some forms of advanced spyware spy on your screen while you are logging into bank accounts, email accounts, etc. The spyware then sends your password to internet thieves and hackers.

Written by US Norton:

A lot of spyware harvests information related to your computer and how you use it. For example, it may monitor your Web browsing patterns. However, more sophisticated forms of spyware have been known to capture and transmit highly personal information to identity thieves, from your website passwords and usernames to your credit card numbers or copies of your instant messages.

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How Does It Work?

Here a summary of how spyware works:

The first step is spyware entering your computer. When you download some software/application, it can contain spyware that will send you ads, infest your computer, and take information.

It will then track whatever the spyware is looking for, but most spyware has an ultimate goal to take your personal information.

According to InformationWeek:

The chief channel for transmitting spyware is through ActiveX controls conveyed over popup windows. A single click on a window that says “Click Here To Claim Your Surprise Gift” might give you a real surprise, by downloading spyware in the form of an ActiveX control.

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What Does It Do To Your Computer?

Actually, what you’re asking is: What does it do to you? Not to your computer. What spyware does to your computer is infest it with spy cameras to take your personal information by running in the background of your screen. So you may ask, what does it do to me?

After the spyware successfully takes your information, it can do one of two things:

  1. Hackers will take your information and use it to access your bank account, credit card, and other personal things. They do this by pretending that they are you and withdrawing money from your bank or making many purchases with your card.
  1. The second thing that they can do is send your information to other hackers that give them money in return.

An excerpt from PC Tools reads:

Spyware authors have been known to pay shareware developers to bundle their spyware with the legitimate software as well as simply repackaging freeware and bundling it with their own spyware. Drive-by downloading is another method used to install spyware on an unsuspecting user’s computer.

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How Do You Prevent It?

  1. Watch For Programs That You Download

Make sure you do not download anything with spyware hidden inside of it. To do this, you should read the description of the software/program that you are downloading first. This may be a pain, but it’s really not worth having hackers steal your passwords. Read the terms and conditions as well as the privacy policy. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, you can skim through it to make sure there isn’t anything strange in it. Look out for ActiveX, a common tool that installs spyware onto your computer.

  1. Beware of Ads

Be careful when you see an ad that seems interesting. Either spyware has already figured out what you like, or they are trying to jump on to your train and wreck it! So be careful and ask yourself: “Do I actually need this?” or “Is this real? Or tricking me?”. Someone may be on the other page watching for your response to the ad.

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