Spyware is a common threat to all users of computing devices. It is a type of malicious software (i.e., malware) that can be installed without the user’s knowledge or authorization onto a personal computer or any other computing device, including mobile phones, regardless of the operating system. Email marketing companies such as Eye See You Now can help with and navigate completely around issues such as spyware and cybersecurity needs.
Spyware often becomes rooted within the source code during an app installation, when an infectious file attachment is opened, or if a malicious website is accessed. It is most commonly disseminated via links that users are encouraged to click within an email, pop-up window or ad, etc. Sometimes the damaging code is embedded on legitimate websites in the form of advertisements.
Common Ways for Computers to Become Infected with Spyware and Other Malware
- games, videos, music, and other digital content downloaded and distributed without permission (i.e., pirating media)
- materials downloaded from unknown sources
- pop-up advertisements
- email attachments opened from unknown senders
Spyware is dangerous because it creates an access point for personally identifying information and internet usage data for inappropriate or unauthorized use by outside parties including advertisers, data mining companies, and others. Once installed, spyware allows for violations of personal privacy because it can be used to scrutinize a user’s internet activity and browsing history, track usernames and passwords, and monitor other sensitive information.
Spyware gathers all of this information using keyloggers and screen captures to be used to steal an individual’s identity or to sell to third parties. The main goal of spyware usually is to obtain credit card numbers, banking information, and other finance-related usernames and passwords. Further, sometimes it is used to intercept emails and texts, eavesdrop and record phone conversations, and access personal photos and/or videos, as well as to track people by physical location (i.e., “stalkerware”). Spyware also can make changes to and reconfigure the security settings of the infected computing device secretly, to allow other malware to be installed.
One of the first signs that spyware has infected a computer or other device is often a reduction in network connection speeds and battery life, as well as increased data usage. Otherwise, the embedded code runs imperceptibly in the background, unbeknownst to the user. Because the changes are usually exceptionally subtle, spyware is very difficult to detect once installed on a device. Furthermore, new malware is being developed and launched every day. Taking advantage of anti-spyware tools that are available to help prevent or to remove spyware by providing real-time scanning of network data and blocking of it and other malware, or scanning to detect and remove any that was installed at an earlier time, is key.
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