Spyware are some of the most serious computer threats these days. While a lot of spyware are just nuisances – sending your data to advertisers or slowing down your computer’s performance – some are more insidious. These spyware have the capability to steal data like account numbers and passwords, monitor your communications, or even install other malicious software (malware) into your computer.
As we become more dependent on our computers and mobile phones for a lot of our daily tasks, ensuring their security and privacy is of outmost importance. We keep a lot of important information like our bank details and business documents. Most of our private and intimate communication is often done via phone, video call, chat, and email. Spyware gives others access to that information without our knowledge and allow it to pose the following threats:
Enable Identity Theft
Spyware can monitor the online pages you go to and can transmit your account IDs and password to third parties. While this can be annoying when someone hijacks your social media account and writes posts under your name, it can be quite devastating if that person makes libelous or even criminal postings using your accounts.
Online banking information like credit card numbers and their security codes can also be stolen by spyware. If you have access a work network, the intruders can use your login information to steal your company’s sensitive data.
Provide Information to Stalkers
As our devices become more advanced, so do spyware. They can monitor and record calls, instant messages, emails, video calls, and even the location of the device. Some even have the ability to activate the device’s camera and take videos and photos. While there may be legitimate uses for this type of spyware like a business installing surveillance software on company issued devices, there are also more shady applications of the technology.
It is possible for a stalker, abusive spouse, or even agents of a competing business to install software on your computer or mobile phone and then get data from those devices. And unless you have specialized tools or expertise, you may not even know that the spyware has been installed.
Your conversations, photos, and other information can be in the hands of the persons that can use them to harm you. There have been cases where stalkers have been able to find their victims because of spyware that had been installed on their phones.
Allow Others to Take Over Your Computer
With spyware’s ability to install other malicious software, it is possible for your computer to be controlled by other people. Your personal or business data can then either be stolen or damaged. Another possibility is that your computer can be turned into a remote server without your knowledge. Malicious software can be running in the background, allowing others to use your computer to distribute malware or even illegal materials.
While this can cause performance issues on your computer, this can become quite serious if the authorities track such activity to you. You will then have to go through the rigorous process of proving your innocence.
Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Spyware
There are many products that can keep you safe from spyware. Once installed, these will have to be kept updated to increase their ability to protect against spyware. While most of them are constantly active, periodic scanning is still recommended.
Take note that these anti-spyware products may not necessarily be able to protect you from spyware that you or somebody else installs on your computer. Only install software from sources that you trust. Before installing software, carefully understand what it does and read all licenses and disclosures. Some spyware are bundled with freeware to entice users to install them, so pay careful attention when installing this type of software.
In the event that spyware has caused significant damage like identity theft or if you have a stalker, hire a private investigator who is an expert in cyber-crimes. These private investigators are trained in investigating crimes committed with the assistance of computers. They are able to gather evidence in case you need to prove your innocence or bring a perpetrator to court.