As fortunate as we are to have all that modern computers and the Internet can offer us for disposal as users, nothing comes without a price. As much as the amount of information and software we can get for free or at a very reasonable price grows, the same way grows the amount of threat that comes within. According to the latest statistics, every 20th computer on the Internet is infected with spyware, which can record user actions and launch advertising pop-ups, not to mention it can actually spy on users, which makes it a real security threat for everyone.
What is Spyware?
Spyware, actually consisting of the words spy and ware, is software installed and unnoticeably working on the background of your device without your cognition, consent, and control. Such programs are getting shadily into your system and start to control your actions, sometimes bearing unforeseen consequences, sometimes leading to failure of your system’s internal processes. Unlike viruses, spyware does not multiply by itself and as far as we know does not infect neighboring systems. What spyware is capable of is to get to your computer through the browser and the Internet or through software you download and install. Even with the best intentions, you might have when getting a new program, you are not protected every time you do so. Spyware can change the OS configuration, monitor Internet activity and transmit information about your preferences to the interested third party, from time to time open advertising pop-ups on the screen, memorize and transcript private data (including banking credentials and passwords) and send it to the attackers, and many other things.
To make you aware of some, spyware is divided into several types:
- Tracking Software monitors the system and user’s actions within;
- Keyloggers track keystrokes every time you type, this includes even what appears encrypted to you;
- Screen Scrapers take screenshots from the monitor screen with valuable data;
- AdWare shows ads and prompt popups;
- Automatic Download Software downloads software you don’t need;
- Remote Control Software (Backdoors, Botnets, Droneware) provides “doors” and remote computer control;
- Security Analysis Software is all kinds of panels and small programs for the browser (and the operating system in general) that you were not going to install, cookies that track your visits to sites;
- Dialing Software dials somewhere on foreign servers or paid lines.
First of any other actions you might want to do is to know how to find spies on your device and then get rid of it.
How to Detect Spyware on your Device
Unfortunately, the user, as a rule, does not know about the presence of spyware means on his or her computer, except for those cases when the malware opens advertising windows and unsolicited sites so much that it becomes noticeable. The fact is that many of the sudden changes in the way your PC works, which may accompany the activity of spyware, can be easily explained. For example, the reduced speed of the computer can be the result of overloading the system with unused stuff, whereas the slower download speed on your side is attributed to the increased load of the provider’s channels, etc. The danger from these misunderstandings only grows in geometrical progression, as we tend to not pay attention to such issues. Here are some signs that might indicate spyware had infected your computer:
- You’ve noticed new toolbars, links, or preferences that you didn’t add to the browser;
- The home page, mouse pointer, or search service changes unexpectedly;
- If you enter the address of a specific site in your browser, a completely different page opens;
- Pop-up advertisements appear even if the computer is not connected to the Internet;
- If you see a black command line screen when loading the operating system;
- If you look in the task manager and see that with a general inactivity of the system, the video card and processor are loaded by more than a half;
- The computer suddenly slows down.
If you are wondering if this can happen to your mobile device as well, then you are to be warned: it surely can. Remember those ads popping up on the video you watch or in the music app you are currently using – sometimes an X is so small, that no matter how hard you try you can not close it? Eventually, you might always end up clicking one of those ads and that creates a way for spyware to get through. If you value your personal information, always be very careful with such ads, or at least try, as this may end up transmitting your privates to the hackers. For the best protection of your computer privacy, we recommend that you always run the Windows Defender program or another antivirus program you trust.
Removing Spyware from iPhone or iPad
Undoubtedly, the most prominent way to get rid of spyware on an iPhone or iPad Is to be assured that your OS is up to date. Apple, as an experienced company, recognizes malware threats and continually updates its software to be able to fight them. As soon as you update your Apple, all existing spyware will be detected and deleted automatically. So check that your device is always running the latest Apple software update or better have it done automatically.
Also, a good way to get rid of spyware on an iPhone or iPad is to install an anti-spyware application.
How do Get Rid of Spyware on Mac
Mac spyware has similar behavior to Windows spyware, but it is dominated by password-stealing software and general backdooring. The malicious activities of the second category include remote execution of malicious coding, keylogging, screen capturing, random uploads and downloads of files, phishing passwords, etc.
Most of the nastiest spyware comes just as it does on Windows, through installers packed with unwanted software, from download sites, or through shadowed ads that push you towards an unofficial, corrupted installer. To protect your Macbook, get your apps from the Mac App Store or developer site. Avoid running unsigned software — this means that only applications from the App Store and well-known official developers are fine to be downloaded for your safety.
Unlike Windows, the apps list on Mac doesn’t have a window where you can see what’s installed and quickly uninstall it. On Windows, most “legal” software allows you to remove it from there. On Mac, it can be difficult to know how to remove this junk but remember it can be uninstalled using Launchpad or Finder.
To keep your Macbook safe from viruses, you need to test certain functions:
- If the automatic system update is turned off, turn it on urgently. Apple pays a lot of attention to patches, making work safer with every update;
- Use an account without full user rights for your daily work (regular user account);
- Use Password Manager regularly. Keychain Access will allow you to safely store all passwords on your computer using a single master key. Its request will alert you if malicious code is launched;
- Do not switch off the firewall and check it regularly.
The last but not the least way to get rid of spyware on your Mac is the same as it is with Windows — get an effective antivirus software and be safe.
Delete Spyware from Android Phone or Tablet
Usually, as an Android user, you can manually remove spyware, but we offer that you restart your Android device to Safe Mode first. This will allow you to get rid of the fraudulent apps on your device or tablet and not harm what is useful. Here are the steps you need to follow to get the job done.
- Go to Settings;
- Scroll down to “All applications” (it will not hurt to look into “System applications” as well);
- Find the “Running” or “Active” tab and scroll through it carefully.
- If you find suspicious programs, do the following:
- When the Safe mode is running, go to settings and tap on Apps.
- In the list that appears, disable and uninstall spy apps.
- If you are not sure about the origin of the program, Google search for the names of suspicious software to know for sure.
- Now restart your Android and use it normally.
Spyware intrusion can be prevented through using a reliable antivirus software. It traces tampering attacks and terminates them. What if we say that there’s a solution that combines efficient adblocking utility, reliable personal firewall, sensitive data protection, and costs like a cup of coffee? Wondering if it’s true? Go ahead and try out AdLock
To sum it up, let’s look at spyware not as a source of panic and discomfort, but as an issue we have all means to fight. Though spyware can indeed be dangerous (just think of cases where hackers sell what they could scavenger by the means of plain users to the government officials and interested organizations that are actually involved in political espionage), that does not mean our technology is not ready to help us get rid of it. Just stay alert at all times online, as well as take good care of your software — update in time, clean it, run diagnostics — it will pay off in no time.