Our Digital World - Part 2

In this part we are going to jump right in. We will be covering Spyware in this post.

So what is Spyware?

The simple definition is: Software that enables a user to obtain covert information about another's computer activities by transmitting data covertly from their hard drive.

So what does this mean?

Spyware is a type of malware that specifically allows for the collection of data. This is often done through an installation of Tracking software to follow your online activity to promote different advertisements, or through the installation of a Keylogger which allows the attacker to track keystrokes to not only follow every move you make on the computer but also obtain usernames, passwords, and if you make purchases online payment information, more modern spyware can also allow the attacker to enable the microphone or camera on your computer or phone taking this invasion of your privacy to a whole new level.

How do you know if you have been infected by spyware?

The most common symptoms of spyware are: Significant system slow down, programs running in the taskbar (at the bottom right of the screen by the time) that you do not recognize, new icons on the desktop when you did not install any new software. Other signs of a possible spyware infection include symptoms of a general malware infection, such as, website redirects, new home pages when you open your browser, slow internet speed (where speed was not an issue previously), and new toolbars or search assistants. Running periodic scans with your anti-virus will also help you discover any spyware on your pc.

What to do if you think you are infected with spyware

The first and most important thing you should do is stop using secure web services such as online purchases, site log-ins such as facebook, email and banking. The next step would be to perform a full system scan with your antivirus. If nothing is found or if you feel this did not resolve the issue the next step would be to bring it into Nextier Computer Services so we can remove the hard drive and perform scans. This is a better method for detecting infections as it prevents a running infection from hiding itself from your anti-virus.

How to avoid spyware

The best and simplest method for avoiding these and many other types of infection is to 1. Keep your applications and operating system up to date. 2. Avoid searching for and downloading files for free, especially if you know they are paid services typically. 3. When performing general searches pay close attention to what you are clicking on before you click, take a look at the entire result of a search before you click i.e. the Title of the result, the www. of the result, and the description of the result. 4. Make sure you are running an active and up-to-date Antivirus application.

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