The term spyware has some clearly negative connotations to it, and rightly so. This variety of malicious software can cause no small amount of trouble if left unchecked. What follows is a brief overview of spyware, and what measures you can take to protect yourself and your business from it.
Spyware is any program that accumulates data from a system without being discovered by that system’s user. Data that is typically targeted includes passwords and credit card credentials, email addresses, and even keystrokes and browsing habits.
The key to a program being labelled as spyware hinges on the idea that it was installed without the user’s consent. This is often accomplished by attaching the malicious software to another program that the user is installing by choice. Spyware can also be spread through other methods that malware utilizes – including compromised websites or emails. Spyware is a massive epidemic, with an estimated 90% of home PCs being infected with some form of spyware.
If your system is infected with spyware, it can cause some serious operational deficiencies. Since the device’s resources are tied up by the spyware, your system is likely to run more slowly or even freeze and crash. Some spyware will even change the settings of your device, or manipulate your web browser to visit malicious websites, which opens the floodgates to bigger problems.
Of course, there’s also the other major issue that spyware presents, especially to business users: data leakage. Spyware can make your business vulnerable to other breaches, as access credentials can be recorded and used later by cybercriminals. Financial data and sensitive company information would also be up for grabs, as would effectively any data entered into the infected device.
The best way to prevent spyware is to know what to look for. If you need to download content, be sure it’s from a trusted source. When opening emails, keep a look out for phishing emails.
If you have a complex network set up, it may be better for you to have an outsourced IT department manage your IT security. Our expert technicians know malware inside and out and can identify and remove threats like spyware from entering into your system.