When there are no signs of visible threats around we tend to feel safe and intact. This may be true for our day to day experience, however, in the technology world, being confident about your safety can be dangerous especially from types of malware called Spyware.
What makes Spyware one of the most alerting entities in cybersecurity is its seamless activities making hard for most users to be aware of the existence. Early 2000 survey shows 89% of Spyware infected computers' users did not know about their insecurity situation.
In broad, the term "spyware" can be applied to any type of malware with features that allow hackers to spy on or monitor victims' device activities. The spying can be in the form of device screen observation, location tracking, keystroke streaming, browser monitoring, or remote controlling.
Another characteristic commonly found throughout general spyware is its seamless installation and near-invisible existence making the spy activities hard to be noticed by the victim. Spy activities can be performed so long as no one finds out about it. This is another reason to set up antivirus software to make sure there is no spyware hiding on your computer.
History of Spyware
The first appearance of spyware was in 1995 in an online form website Usenet - a community discussion space where users share stories and events happening on the internet. Here there is a record that the term and conceptual definition of spyware were introduced by one of the users.
The word spyware started to be used by cybersecurity organizations around the year 2000 as they noticed some malware had features related to spying computer activity. Within the same year, the first anti-spyware was released to alert and protect victims who were desperate for solutions.
Stunning statistics result were announced by AOL's spyware research conducted in 2004. The survey shows that over 80% of users' computers showed signs of spyware infection, with an average of 93 spyware per computer. Among all victims, 89% did not notice the existence of spyware, and 95% did not permit to install.
What Can Spyware Do to Your Computer?
The harms delivered by spyware are hard to notice because all activities are performed at the background of the system. Some minor signs of spyware existence are a spike in memory resource consumption and malicious network connection streams. However, threats caused by spyware is known as one of the worst in malware.
The key spyware activities happen in a complex and deep-rooted part of the host system. Some are designed to attack the browser by routing the user to webpages made to steal private information. Others specialize in hacking the computer environment to visually monitor display, trace keystrokes, reroute network streams, and inject program to remote control the device.
In the worst case, hackers can remotely login to your computer simultaneously using a different user account, steal any files or data, and destroy the entire system to vanish the traces. There are even cases that cloud server resources are hiddenly used to mine virtual currencies.
Types of Spyware
Keyboard Logger - A program designed to keep track of every single keyboard entry record by storing it to a log file. Utilizes a tool called rootkit which has access to the deeper part of the OS system. Stored records are analyzed by hackers to discover account passwords and financial information. Also known as Keystroke Logger.
Info Stealers - Runs in the background and scan for stored account information such as usernames, passwords, and browser histories. Some types are also capable to perform system status streaming associated with user account monitor and network analyzation. If spyware decides additional tactics are required to figure out the password, it may automatically download and install plugin features to flexibly continue spying.
Password Stealers - Like Info Stealers but loaded with features toward stealing passwords. May target OS login password using a rootkit, monitor keystrokes for password inputs, or trace browser sessions for account logins.
Browser Hijacker - More noticeable type of spyware dedicate to manipulate browser for hacker's benefit. Manipulation may cause adware display using multiple popups and homepage overwrite techniques to force users to click the affiliate links. Adding unfamiliar bookmarks and toolbars are also a common behavior for browser hijacking. In the worst cases, it will attack known browser vulnerability to inject programs to monitor browser activities.
How to Protect Yourself from Spyware Infection
Be careful with any activities involves file download, program execution, and web browsing as these are the main source introducing spyware to your system. Download software only from the official site and avoid third-party software at all costs. Hackers often bundle their spyware and upload with and advertisement tag mentioning it is a Latest/VIP/Mod/Crack version.
Place an extra caution when opening email attachment and links. Make sure the title and message content are not unusual before taking any action. Even if the message was sent from a familiar source there is always a possibility that email was generated and sent by spyware. Either configure the antispyware to automate email validation or maintain a practice to manually scan suspicious emails.
How to Remove Spyware after Infection
The approach to remove spyware is similar to the solution used for other types of malware. To remove comprehend remove spyware against different infections, the best way is to use an Antispyware software.
Performing a full antispyware scan will analyze the details of the characteristics of each and all spyware discovered in your device. Furthermore after the antispyware collects each spyware file location, contamination area, and counter-measurements, the spyware termination process can be directly executed.