Application Security IT Security


What is Spyware?

Spyware is software that enables a user to obtain covert information about someone’s computer activities by secretly transmitting data from their device. There are many types of spyware focused on monitoring different types of information, ranging from relatively innocent web browsing trackers used by advertisers to cyberattacker enterprises seeking credentials and passwords for financial schemes. Spyware can arrive on your phone or computer attached to seemingly legitimate software, through applications, from phishing attacks, or someone could directly install it on your device. The following are spyware categories to be aware of:

Mobile. Mobile spyware can track your location, call logs, contacts, photos, and files.

Audio and video. Sound recording and video spyware can record your conversations and then send them to third parties. If application permissions allow access to cameras and/or microphones, this can be used to record you at any time, upload sound and photos without alerting you, livestream you online, or to run facial recognition software on you.

Keyloggers. Keyloggers capture computer activity by capturing the keyboard inputs and using this information to extract information including browsing history, credentials, and passwords.

Passwords. Password stealers harvest passwords from infected devices. Password types include system logins, stored web passwords, network credentials, and cookies that can allow them to visit websites as if they were you.

Information. Info stealers scan PCs for sensitive information such as credentials and passwords, credit card numbers, email addresses, and contacts.

Banking trojans. Banking trojans exploit security lapses and modify web pages so that visitors may be redirected to malicious sites, have their keystrokes logged, have their credentials stolen, or have their transactions modified so that money is redirected away from the intended recipient and is instead sent to the cyberattacker’s account.

Cookie trackers. Data is reported to advertisers through cookie trackers, but exactly what data is reported is often unknown.

The following are signs that your device may have spyware:

  • Increasingly sluggish response
  • Unexpected pop-ups
  • New toolbars, home pages, or search engines
  • Rapidly decreasing battery life
  • Failed login attempts to secure web page, which may indicate that you entered your information into a spoofed web page
  • Increases in data usage or bandwidth
  • Antivirus software not working properly
  • A list of devices where your account is active shows unfamiliar devices/locations

Prevent spyware installation by following these security behaviors:

  • Use lock screen on your smartphone
  • Use strong passwords
  • Keep operating system, software, and antivirus updated
  • Restrict admin privileges
  • Only used secured Wi-Fi
  • Monitor permissions
  • Do not click on links in emails if you are not sure where they are going
  • Do not download files if you do not know where they are coming from
  • Do not use rooted Android or jailbroken iPhones