Spyware is a term used to describe software that gathers information about a computer and the things you do on it, then sends that information over the internet to the Spyware developer. This activity isn’t always malicious, some software developers would want to know how their software is being used in order to improve it. The line becomes blurred when the information being fed back becomes personal, and potentially with no consent from the user to access it.
Malicious spyware would include apps that harvest personal information with the intent of selling to other marketers or, in the absolute worst case, aiming to harvest personal information such as credit card details, user names, and passwords.
Spyware has also been discovered that has recorded instant messages, chats, controlled webcams, and taken screenshots. Potentially therefore linked to ransom attacks where hackers threatened to release sensitive information publicly.
Signs of Spyware
- Emails being sent to your address book without initiation from you
- Changes to browser homepage and frequent redirects when trying to visit a website
- Frequent pop-ups
- Computer crashes
- Slow computer performance after a recent computer restart
How to stay protected against Spyware
Using TotalAV Real-Time Protection will prevent spyware from getting on your computer in the first place. Running regular Anti-virus scans, either manually or through a defined schedule, will ensure any spyware on your computer is stopped and removed.
Beyond that, though we advise reading the privacy policies of any software you install from unknown sources especially. Then just generally to be careful when downloading software, Spyware will often also be a trojan – a seemingly useful app that has a purpose, that is acting maliciously in the background.