Spyware - A New Threat Or Something That Can Be Ignored?
Spyware - a new threat from the internet
Nowadays, the internet is filled with different threats, developed to disturb you, steal your data, damage your computer and destroy it. There are so many kinds of malware, that it would be possible to write many books about what it is, how it works, why it is developed and how to fight with it.
Spyware is one of those malware that are so disturbing , it is associated with certain kinds of behaviour, mostly collecting data, illegitimately, of course; it is also associated with tracking your activities online, advertising and other things, connected with privacy. Note please that when we speak about Spyware, we mean, that those activities are performed without you knowing about them. If for example a website is informing you about cookies policy and you accept it, then, we cannot speak neither about a spyware more about intruding into your private life.
Thus, what does a spyware do?
Mostly, spyware is developed with a purpose to steal your passwords, track your activities online and offline, collect information and redirect it to the spyware developer. These programs are very difficult to detect, as they work very silently in the background, mostly they do not reproduce themselves and they try to keep your computer safe in order to stay undetected and collect more information. And, in most cases it looks like a freeware or a shareware, like this there are more chances to infect more people. That is why, you have to make ALL software and entertainment files downloads only from reputable websites. All websites that offer downloads, claim that they are free from malware, but you never know. Though reputable websites will, most likely, keep their promises.
Or, you can also use an anti-spyware tool, which can protect your system. Many of them are free, and they can simply run in the background constantly, moreover, they don’t slow down your computer. Like this, you will be protected and the computer efficiency will not be compromised.
But, with downloading of free anti-spyware products you also shall be careful. Download any software from official websites, and before doing so, check reviews and feedback, everywhere where possible. Why? Because many malicious programs are pretending to be an antispyware, and those are very dangerous. They can do much harm, for example, block a part of files or even the whole system. You will not be able neither to open files nor to work on your own computer! Moreover, they will demand money for a fix, or a password, and if you even pay, there is no guarantee, that the fix will be performed. Moreover, most likely, it will never be done, as you paid already. In such cases, we would recommend rather to spend that money on a good hacker and with his help try to get your computer back.
Spyware - a malware?
Spyware is not one kind of malware, otherwise all would be much simpler. But no, it is a complete set of malicious programs, such as Trojans, data stealing programs and so on. That is why, while fighting with it. We shall consider all possible options. Moreover, those programs are becoming smarter. Actually, they are mostly one step forward and this fact is easy to explain: first the malware is developed, and then, the solution is looked for. Moreover, most of the programs of such kind are installing themselves in some locations. And when you detect one and are trying to remove it, the software will install itself again in a new location. That is why, spyware is often called the computer cancer of our time.
Spyware is a real trouble for home users, but for enterprises, especially those working with confidential and sensitive data, it may be a real disaster. We believe, there is no need to explain, why. Just imagine, that information about secret experiments in a military laboratory became available to enemies.
That is why, it is really extremely important to be very careful with free downloads, especially with fun-things, such as animated cursor, games and so on. Spyware is often hidden in them.
But how to detect, that yes, your computer is infected?
Well, sometimes it is possible, though, not always. First of all, you shall pay attention to the following symptoms:
- New links, toolbars appear while you haven't installed them.
- Your home page changed, while you haven't applied any modifications.
- Your mouse pointer or search software change, without you applying any changes to them.
- You enter an address in your browser, but you are redirected to a different website, which has no connection with your search.
- You see popup advertisement windows, even if you system is offline.
- In some cases, spyware slows down the speed of your system and compromises its performance, though, that happens not always.
The biggest threat of the spyware is that they have no intention to damage the computer, but to collect data. That is why, they are developed in a way, that they do not disturb the system, but silently do their job. The described above symptoms are noticeable in the very best case, but, in most cases, a spyware is very difficult to detect and even much more difficult to remove.
Why is it difficult to remove?
Because even the best ever spyware removal program has so called blind spots, and developers of malicious software know them, and, of course, exploit them. The spyware is becoming more and more elaborate. Even if you may believe that you got rid of them completely, the malicious program can hide somewhere in the registry and just wait for the moment when the system reboots and they will be able to activate themselves again. And even if you run checkups now and then, if you try another anti-malware product, you will discover, that yours one isn’t perfect, and you will find in the system many unpleasant things, that your software missed. That is why, to be more or less confident, that your system is clean, consider running several software. If one misses something, then, this something will be detected by another one.
How does a spyware get into my system?
In the most cases, through downloads. For example, if you are downloading music files, especially from unauthorized sources, which are the most in the web, you are literally inviting all kind of spyware and malware in general. That is why, try to avoid such downloads, and if you even do it, then at least make sure, that you do it through a firewall and with the anti malware software enabled, preferably, set up for the highest level of security.
Also, if you like playing online games, or downloading any kind of freeware and shareware, you shall be double careful, as there may reside many malware, including spyware. In such case, they even don’t need to make any effort to penetrate the system, you are downloading them on your own, and all that they have to do is to install themselves and to provide for themselves good conditions for existing.
To prevent or to cure?
We can make a conclusion, based on all that we mentioned before, that preventing a spyware from penetrating into your system is much easier and cheaper than trying to eliminate it and its activities results. That is why, we better concentrate on how to prevent it, and only then we will check how to eliminate its harmful activities.
- Firewall. The very minimum you shall do is to install a good firewall, even if a paid one, and a popup blocker. This will provide your system the basic protection from damaging malware.Attachments. Do not open attachments that you don’t know and if you aren’t 100% sure, that they are safe. The same rule works for downloads.
- Avoid visiting websites, which you don’t know. Moreover, even if you use a “safe” website, the spyware can download itself from there into your system. Here, you shall be very careful about which websites you open. It happens automatically, and the websites can look and be very reliable ones.
- Careful traffic filtering. It may sound ridiculous, but high speed internet is also a threat that a spyware can download itself. Even if you have firewall enabled. This happens, because the most firewalls are not capable to filter all traffic, due to the high internet speed. And spyware is extremely efficient, it gets into your system within not even a second.
- A good antivirus and anti-malware software of course increases your protection significantly. But, do not forget to update it as it is needed, as new malware and viruses are developed every day, plenty of them, with the most advanced features.
- Some companies employ different kinds of limitations to the internet use, for example, using of social networks, some kind of websites, there are limits for files downloading. Many employees do not understand the risk, under which they are putting the company, but those measures are necessary to keep the network of the company safe from intrusion, they aren’t invented to limit the freedom of the employees.
- File sharing. In the internet, there are plenty of websites and services for sharing files, especially it is popular for illegitimate sharing of music, videos, games. Such websites are a treat for all kind of malware, including spyware.
- Spyware often comes in mailbox as a message that offers to buy something, or with a nice attachment, etc. That is why, you better avoid clicking on anything that comes into your mail. And even better if you have one mailbox for your family, and a different one for all the rest, including your work.
- Scam. If you receive a lot of scam, change your internet provider.
- Harvesting software. As you know, there is so called harvesting software, it collects information and can easily ready any email address, available in the usual form. That is why, if you need to put your mail address in a website that is easily accessible, better do using letters rather than conventional form.
- Use secure passwords.
- The web. When you aren’t using your computer, either turn it off, or turn off the modem, or get disconnected from the internet.
- Installs. All software that you are going to install, poses a potential danger. That is why, use only the software from verified sources. Remember, that by trying save money, while downloading a software from a torrent or any other source, you most likely, are going to spend much more on efforts to eliminate problems, which such download may cause. In the best case. In the worst case, you may need to change the computer.
- Keep the security settings of your browser at least at medium level, doesn’t matter what requires a software that you wanted so long and finally fond and are trying to install. Avoid installing any other browsers or search engines. Those are very vulnerable for spyware.
And among the tools that detect and more or less reliably clean the system from the malware, the best are:
- Microsoft Washer is one of the best tools offered in the market, moreover, it offers a trial spy version.
- Spy Sweeper is a new tool, it uses all new technologies that are available in antivirus market, and it offers a free trial, too!
- The Pop Up Washer is a software that you shall consider if you want to protect your system. It prevents popup windows, hence, block access for malware through them.
- Spybot Search and Destroy is a special software that is able to detect and remove spyware. It is free, if you are an individual user.