As the technology has advanced, so has the threat to the security of our systems. We are installing more powerful and authenticated anti-viruses these days, but the threat to damage our system does not seem to be halting.  As more and stronger anti-viruses are developed, so are the forms of the viruses. Every day, we come across a new form of virus that may cause damage to our PC and new software to get rid of them.

Most of you would have come across a situation when you observe some unusual activity in your system, something like missing icons on the desktop or unexpected pop-ups. This is one of the most common issues these days.  If you have encountered any such situation, there is likelihood that your PC may be infected by Spyware.

Spyware is nothing but software that finds out a hideous place in your PC and then attacks the most important areas of your system. Its only motive is to harm you in all possible way. 

How does it harm you??? Well, there are many ways; depending for what purpose it is developed. One of the most common among them is spreading your personal information for gaining some financial profits.

And who are the people who would actually steal your personal information? Well, they can be:

  1. The creator of the software
  2. A hacker
  3. A 3rd party who would want to use your personal information to get profited.

And how does they benefit???? There are several ways:

  1. Your browsing activity can be tracked and then hacked. This will cause a redirect of a particular website to market it.
  2. Simply misusing your information and causing a threat to personal security information as well as causing damage to your system.

Spyware is a program that is created with the basic motive of stealing the user’s personal information like security information, personal files and folders. The very word itself identifies that it is spying software. This means that a spyware can cause much more damage than what malwares and virus can……….

The strange thing about spyware is that they can hide themselves very efficiently even at the time of detection. Spyware blend themselves into the system with names that may appear too familiar to detect. So how the spyware does not allow any anti-spyware to detect??? There are two ways in which they can be done:

  1. The spyware encrypts in the code/data to allow avoid being detected. They also keep on changing their file per installation.
  2. The spyware tries to kill the anti-spyware process, and thus disabling them.

Do you know???

Gator and eZula are some of the most popular spyware.

Mostly you will be attacked by a spyware in the form of software. However there are some which may be present in the form of hardware too.

How to detect if you have been attacked by a Spyware?

Spyware can be detected by any of the activities mentioned below:

  • You see a change in the configuration as well as basic settings in your system. This could be anything from a change in the screensaver to some important folders being automatically removed/ deleted.
  • You are constantly redirected to a particular site while you are browsing through your default browser irrespective of your search criteria.
  • You are receiving pop-up ads/advertisement which asks you to click on their ads to get rid of all the undesired activities.
  • You see deterioration in the performance of your PC like slowing of speed, some programs not operating, etc.
  • You see undesirable toolbar/icon installed in your default browser.
  • Your default Home page keeps changing frequently.
  • You encounter error messages while visiting some of your important/most visited sites.
  • Some of the keys in your keyboard do not seem to function properly.

What are the sources of Spywares?

Spyware attacks can happen anytime during your browsing. You need to be precautious to avoid it. You may be infected by a spyware from any of the following pages:

  • By visiting a web-page or by clicking an Ad on a webpage.
  • By clicking on a link in your email or downloading an attachment from your e-mail.
  • By downloading software which allows you to download only if you agree to share your information. These are generally mentioned in the Terms and Agreement section of the software referred to as “End User License Agreement”.

Form of Spywares:

Adware:

Adware or Advertising supported software is software that displays pop-up ads and renders advertisements. Generally the advertisements are in the form of pop-ups. Adware themselves are harmless but they generally come with spywares which monitors your internet activity and share your personal information to 3rd party website.

Adware’s are implemented in the software in the form of advertisement by the developer to recover the cost of developing the software. Advertisements are often irritating if they are interrupted in between. Some of the software which distribute the software free of charge but full of advertisements, offers paid services to give advertisement free software without any interruption. Thus revenue can be generated following any of the methods.

Trojans:

It is a file or programs that track your personal information and cause damage to the host computer system. Trojan Horse covers 80% of the malwares spread over the web. It spreads in the same way that a spyware infects a computer. They run silently in the background without the knowledge of the user. However, they are more harmful than the Adware.

Some other basic forms include:

Tracking Cookies:  Cookies which track your personal information like your username, password, private and sensitive information, etc.

Browser Hacking: These causes changes in the host file, your home page, effects your search and displays error messages for the frequently browsed pages .

Keyloggers: It keeps a log of all your personal information and send it to a 3rd party for misuse.

Spybots: it monitors your browsing activity as well as sends your information to 3rd party website. It may also affect your host system as it may exist as a dll file.

Preventive Measures to be taken:

Similar to anti-virus, lot many anti-spyware software are available to prevent the attack of the malevolent software. Spyware doctor and Super Anti-spyware are some of the good ones available in the market to remove spyware.

Some more preventive measures that need to be followed are:

  • Do not set up suspecting software into your system. Alternatively, browse for any undesired software in your system already set up, uninstall it immediately.
  • Enable the security settings of your default browser.
  • When downloading free software, do read the Terms and Conditions and License Agreement before installing the software. It is not advisable to download softwares that ask to share or access your information.
  • Running an anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware regularly for the PC always ensures safety and security. Additionally, running a CCleaner helps to remove all the unwanted and unused files from your system.

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