What is Spyware and How to Prevent it From Harming Your Computer

As we embrace the digital world we have today, we continue to grow our dependency on computers and mobile devices. If you consider this true for yourself, then you probably have a lot of personal information stored in your PC, phone, tablet, laptop, etc. A collection of data, facts, and memories you surely don't want others to see or aim to keep in private.

Unfortunately, technological advancement has also made it possible for various cybersecurity threats to pop up everywhere. Malicious programs, such as spyware, can access your system without your permission and even keep tabs on everything you do on your computer or other devices.

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How Does Spyware Works?

Spyware is designed to gather information about a person or organization, including their browsing and Internet usage habits, as well as other data without their knowledge. These particulars are then passed to another entity without the user's consent or used to take over a device without the consumer's realization.

Spyware Is Typically Classified into Four Types:

  • Adware - shows unwanted advertising on a user's system.
  • System monitoring - hostile software will install on a system in order to monitor all activity, such as key presses or microphone audio.
  • Tracking cookies - sends personal information about a user's shopping habits to an aggregator of consumer data.
  • Trojans - provides a hacker with control over the user's system.

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The Most Common Access Points for Spyware Include:

  • Trojans, worms, and backdoors - apart from their primary malicious intent, these threats will distribute spyware across a user's system.
  • Software bundles - a genuinely useful software package may hide a malicious add-on, extension or plugin that looks like a necessary component when it's actually a spyware program that lingers even after uninstalling the host application.
  • Passive downloads - clicking on an unfamiliar link or attachment in an email triggers a download of an executable file. The same goes for visiting a malicious website and viewing a page or banner ad, which may result in what is known as a "drive-by download".
  • Deceptive marketing - spyware authors often present their malicious programs as useful tools to download so that the victims can easily install them and get access to the desired functionality. Spyware may appear as an Internet accelerator, download manager, hard disk drive cleaner, or an alternative web search service.

While a lot of spyware succeeds in being sneaky, they still leave some traces and cause "symptoms", such as too many popups on your computer, the unexpected slowing down of your PC, the addition a new browser toolbar that you didn't install or a new homepage that you didn't set in your browser.

If you suspect that your device has been infected by malware, you can install the best antivirus for Windows 8.1, such as the Comodo Internet Security (CIS), to get rid of it. And if you want to completely protect yourself from the threats of spyware, here are a few tips.

Don't Click on Popups

Be careful of unwanted popup ads, especially those shouting about awards. Never click on "I agree" without reading what's the ad about carefully. Click on the X mark or use Alt+F4 to close it instead of choosing "Cancel" or "Close" buttons. Better yet, make it a habit to turn on your popup blocker. Only turn off this feature if you're on trusted websites that require popups for certain functions.

Don't Click on Suspicious Links in Emails

If you receive emails from unknown or unsolicited senders, it's best to delete them right away. Never download suspicious attachments or click on any link, especially if you're not 100% sure of the identity of the sender. This is a popular move for bad actors to use a phishing attempt to install spyware on your computer.

Keep Your Software Updated

Keep all your software updated, be it your operating system or the antivirus and antispyware you use. Updated tools are more likely to detect and delete advanced malware while obsolete ones contain vulnerabilities, which can be easily manipulated by a hacker.

Be Wary of Free Software

Only buy genuine software from the official vendor because pirated ones that come from untrusted sources can contain spyware or ransomware. Although there are free software solutions that actually work, you'll never know if they're more likely to inflict damages instead.

Use A Multilayered Antivirus Solution

Cybercriminals continue on developing ways to make their malware more unnoticeable, adaptable, resilient and more damaging. Instead of using a common antivirus solution, go with the best antivirus for Windows 8.1 like the Comodo Internet Security (CIS), which offers multi-layered protection that also features solid spyware.

Takeaways

Every kind of malicious software is destructive and dangerous in their own way. Apart from utilizing the best antivirus for Windows 8.1 like Comodo Internet Security, always use your common sense and be a responsible Internet user. Remember that establishing powerful preventive measures are way better than having to deal with and incurring more repair costs when you suffered from a successful cyberattack.