Spyware – an almost invisible threat

Is your PC or mobile phone not as fast as it used to be? Has your battery started lasting less and less, despite its limited state of deterioration? Have you found that you use more data when surfing the net?

If so, you may have been infected with spyware, a rather sneaky malware that lurks in about 90% of PCs without the legitimate users knowing.


Spyware: what is it?

Spyware is malicious software (malware) that infects your computer and spies on you for your personal data. This program can record various personal information, from search and browsing histories to login credentials to credit card information.

There are different types of spyware, but the activity they have in common is that they track your activities once they are installed.

Among the main types, we point out:

  • Keylogger. They capture computer activity by recording keyboard inputs. Stolen information can include websites visited, system credentials and passwords, Internet search history, and various passwords.
  • Password stealer. They steal the password from any infected device or computer. These passwords can include those registered on the web, system logins or network credentials, but they can also steal cookies, in order to later use sites with the user’s ID.
  • Banking Trojans. They are not really spyware, but they could also log keyboard inputs and steal credentials. They are also able to transmit the collected information to another server.
  • Info stealer. They scan information on a PC, such as usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, and email addresses. They may also steal all your email contacts to send them phishing emails.
  • Mobile spyware. They track the user’s geographic location, call log, contact list and even photos taken with the phone’s camera.


How to recognize them?

As we wrote above, some abnormal signals or behaviors from your pc or mobile phone can reveal this threat.

In addition to slowing down the operating system, reduced battery life and anomalies in data traffic, other signs include

  • Difficulty accessing secure sites. If the first login fails while the second is successful, it could mean that the first attempt was made on a fake browser, targeted by spyware
  • Inhibition of security and antivirus software
  • Presence of some applications whose installation is not remembered, including jail breakers
  • Unexpected advertisements and pops. Some spyware presents itself as adware


Conclusions: how to defend yourself?

Spyware is a constant threat to our privacy.

Protecting yourself from hackers and any type of malware means above all avoiding certain risky behaviors.

First of all, surfing the net without an antivirus is equivalent to opening the doors of your pc to spyware.

Furthermore, downloading security software is not enough to stop the virus if the program is not updated frequently, just like one would download the latest updates of their operating system.

Furthermore, remember not to download freeware programs from insecure sites and platforms.

For an overview of the top cyber threats, visit our blog on Top Risks of 2020 on Mobile.