Spyware: A Danger To Your Privacy Online
Published by Rajvi Khanjan Shroff,
Criminals hiding in the shadows - inside your device
When you think of spies, you probably aren’t envisioning somebody sitting at a desk in front of a computer. These days, in a world that is dependent on technology, a lot of personal information is sent across the internet and is stored in your device that an attacker can exploit for their personal gain or to get a leg up to attack your company. One way attackers can do this is through spyware.
Spyware steals information by running in the background of your device. Some spyware collects passwords, while some can scan computers for specific information like usernames, passwords, or monitor what keys you press, emails you send, and browser history. Spyware can be sent through security flaws in operating systems in both mobile devices and computers. Spyware also works through phishing and spoofing which are both ways of getting someone to click on an infected website, email, or email attachment. They can also trick you by having you download a program that claims it will improve your computer, when it ironically does the opposite. On mobile devices, people may download an app that looks like the real one when they are really downloading spyware.
Spyware can be prevented with some good practices such as reading warnings before clicking something. It's so easy just to click "I Agree" or "Okay" to a security warning when you actually should not be okay with whatever you just did. Basically, heed the warnings when downloading a sketchy app or using free wifi, where an attacker can be sitting on the network between you and the router and seeing your web requests and emails sent. Don’t have your devices infected with spyware because you were careless or lazy.
It's also a VERY good idea to be constantly updating your device whenever new updates are available. Many updates will contain security patches to recent vulnerabilities involving things like spyware, and not updating leaves you open for attack. In fact, Apple just released a patch for a spyware exploit a week ago. Allegedly created by a company that develops spyware called the NSO Group, ForcedEntry is an exploit that costs millions to create and is targeted at specific individuals by authoritarian governments. Although this might not be you, there is a very high likelihood that less sophisticated criminals will now be trying to copy this exploit now that the information on this vulnerability has been released, so it's extremely smart to update your devices right away.
Finally, having a strong anti-spyware program on your computer will also obviously help. According to Safety Detectives, Norton, McAfee, TotalAV, MalwareBytes and Bitdefender are all really good options for anti-spyware protection. Overall, spyware can seem scary because of the potential effects on your online privacy, but there are many prevention methods to keep you safe. Just make sure to use them!
As they say, "Be smart and be safe".
Barrett, B. (2021, September 14). It's a Good Day to Update All Your Devices. Trust Us. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/update-ios-windows-chrome-zero-day-patch/
Jackson, S., Author, A. T., Scott Jackson Security Researcher, & About the Author Scott Jackson is an internet security researcher who has spent the last two decades working as an IT technician. (2021, August 04). 10 Best Anti-Spyware Software  - Spyware Removal & Protection. Retrieved from https://www.safetydetectives.com/blog/the-best-anti-spyware-software/
Spyware - What is it & how to remove it? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.malwarebytes.com/spyware