Spyware are a type of software that collects information regarding a user’s activity without its consent.
The term is often used to define a wide range of malware with the most diverse functions, such as sending unsolicited advertisements (spam), changing the browser’s home page or favorites list, or illegal activities such as redirecting to fake e-commerce sites, phishing, or installing scam dialers for special-priced numbers.
What is a spyware?
Spyware represents a type of malware difficult to detect.
They collect information about browsing habits, website history, and personal data (such as credit card numbers), often using Internet to transfer information to third parties without the user’s knowledge.
Spyware are often found within other software or files downloaded from file-sharing sites or installed when you open an email attachment.
Because of the concealment techniques typical of spyware, most people are unaware of the presence of spyware on their computers.
How they infiltrate into devices
Spyware can infect systems just like any other malware, by means of Trojans, backdoors, viruses, worms, exploits, and others.
Below are some of the main spyware infection techniques on PCs and mobile devices:
Everyone should categorically avoid clicking on an unknown link or attachment in an e-mail, which can launch an executable file or lead to a website that downloads and runs a program. In addition, it is possible to incur a drive-by download simply by visiting a malicious site or viewing a page and/or banner advertisement, or even clicking on the option of a deceptive pop-up.
Great care must be taken when downloading seemingly harmless programs that act as decoys, as their installation can result in a spyware infection. Notably, even after uninstalling the software that paved the way for the infection, the spyware may remain on the device and continue to run.
Some freeware might conceal a host program that hides malicious add-ons, extensions or plugins. They might appear as necessary components, but they are spyware that, again, remain even after uninstalling the main application.
Spyware for mobile devices
Mobile devices are prone to infections when an app containing malicious code is installed. These can include legitimate apps reworked with malicious code, malicious apps with a fake name, or apps with fake download links.
Types of spyware
In most instances, the features of spyware threats depend on the intentions of their creator.
Here are some types of spyware and their functions:
- Password stealer – Applications designed for obtaining passwords from infected computers.
- Banking Trojans – Applications designed for obtaining credentials used for logging into financial institution sites/domains.
- Infostealers – Applications that scan infected computers for information including usernames, passwords, e-mail addresses, browser history, log files, system information, documents, spreadsheets or other media files.
- Keyloggers – Applications designed to store computer activity, including keystrokes, sites visited, search history, e-mail discussions, chat dialogues, and system credentials.
The potential harms of spyware
Software such as spyware transmits the collected data to an organization that will use it to profit from it, usually by sending targeted advertising or social engineering.
Spyware first and foremost poses a threat to the user’s privacy, as it seizes information about the user’s behavior without authorization.
Sometimes spyware is used by real criminal organizations, whose goal is to use the information collected for the theft of money through home banking data or through credit card numbers.
This malware also carries consequences on the operation of the computer on which they are installed, causing damage ranging from the bandwidth usage of the Internet connection, resulting in a reduction in the user’s perceived speed, to the occupation of CPU cycles and RAM memory space, to system instability or crashing.
No spyware intends to make the system on which it is installed inoperable, since it must be functioning in order for information to be collected and sent.
However, malfunctions are quite common, especially if a lot of spyware is accumulated.
Often such malfunctions are attributed by the user to defects in the operating system, hardware problems or viruses, or even the security software itself, causing radical actions such as formatting and reinstalling the operating system or resorting to technical support, resulting in considerable loss of time and money.
As a support against the dangers exposed by spyware and similar threats, Telsy presents its dual solution: TelsySpywareDetectorTraffic and TelsySpywareDetectorDevice.
A detector that can enable companies and top managers to proactively monitor the security status of mobile devices, protecting them from mobile malware and advanced threats without sacrificing the end user’s personal data.
Among its main components:
- Access Point Manager – Ensures Internet connectivity to devices via Wi-Fi network and forwards copy of traffic to Deep Packet Inspection System.
- Deep Packet Inspection System – Performs protocol analysis, generating logs to send to the Traffic Analyzer.
- Traffic Analyzer – Enriches and analyzes logs in real time and presents them in a GUI to the operator.
- Threat Intelligence – Manages threat intelligence feeds and allows the Traffic Analyzer system to download them, offering query APIs.
- Captive Portal – Portal for logging to the dedicated Wi-Fi network.
- Device Monitoring Dashboard – Dashboard for monitoring APT or other suspicious activity on connected devices.
The software, installed on a mini-PC, through AI and periodic connection to threat intelligence feeds enables analysis of network connection metadata to detect suspicious or malicious behavior.
The system works without any installation on the smartphone, and enhanced AI analysis ensures user privacy.
Any anomalies detected can be monitored via a dedicated management dashboard.
A solution designed to detect the possible presence of spyware in mobile devices (currently available for iOS; Android version in development), without compromising user privacy.
The system does not take any data on the device, ensuring user privacy.
The software, installed on Android tablets, allows in-depth and automated forensic analysis of all processes, executions and file ownership on the mobile device, connected via USB cable.
At the end of the analysis, a detailed report of any anomalies detected is generated, which can be viewed and downloaded from a dedicated web dashboard.
The user will be able to view, print and/or receive via e-mail the full report with the details of the scan, specifically:
- Device Info
- Unknown files in system paths
- Processes with elevated privileges
- Installed apps
- Apps with anomalous certificates
- Anomalous processes
Learn more about this and other Telsy cyber solutions on our website.