Spyware is a form of malware that can quickly become a big problem. For today’s tip, we’ll go over exactly what spyware is, and how you can keep your business safe from it.
Any program that, without the user’s knowledge or permission, collects data from the rest of the system can be considered spyware. Usually, it is used to collect passwords, email addresses, and credit card credentials, but it has even been known to record a user’s keystrokes and browsing history.
What really makes a program ‘spyware’ is if the user didn’t knowingly give their permission for the program to be installed. Much of the time, programs like these are secretly bundled with another piece of software that the user does intend to download. However, spyware can also be distributed through compromised web pages or through an email campaign, or any other means that malware has to infect a system. It’s estimated that 90 percent of home PCs have been infected with spyware, qualifying spyware as an epidemic.
What Spyware Can Do
If your device isn’t working the way it should, there’s a chance that it has been infected. Spyware can make your system operate more slowly, freeze up, and crash more frequently due to its resources being tied up. Some varieties of spyware can do other things as well, and create bigger problems for you. Your device settings may be altered, or your device might even visit malicious websites on its own.
Spyware also greatly increases the likelihood of a data leak occurring, something that should be particularly concerning to business users. If spyware records access credentials, your business is left open to further cyberattack and espionage. Any data whatsoever, whether access credentials to financial accounts, your business contacts, or internal company secrets, could be collected and passed on to be leveraged against you.
What You Can Do
Unfortunately, the best practices we would usually recommend to avoid infection, like only downloading files from a trusted source and vetting your emails before you open them, are only so effective against spyware. If a normally-safe website is hacked, you could pick up spyware just by visiting it.
As a result, you need to not only be able to identify spyware, but also to protect yourself from it.