The computer remains one of the main everyday devices of our time. Which means that many of the things we do online may be being “followed” by other people. In the next post we will show you How to Detect Spyware on Your Computer.
We will teach you how to detect them on your computer or smartphone, and we will show you how to get rid of them. We will also give you some tips on how to detect spyware on Android phones and iPhone so that you are protected, no matter what type of mobile device you are using.
What is a Spy Program?
Spyware is a type of software that secretly infects your computer to monitor and report your activity and provide information to third parties.
It can track all your web history, all your downloads, your physical and IP location, your emails, contacts, payment information and passwords for your accounts. Something quite dangerous indeed.
Spyware is deceptive and very good at hiding. It usually does this by invading your operating system and working in the background. Sometimes it even disguises itself as a file that is not dangerous and a vital part of your operating system.
Spyware can even stick to seemingly legitimate programs. It is more likely to arrive attached to questionable downloads or through a phishing attack.
Government agencies can even insert spyware through popular channels. Installed software may allow third parties to snoop on your Facebook, for example, as well as check your emails.
And if governments do, we assure you that criminals do too.
How to Detect Spyware on Your Computer
Even if you can’t find the spyware, you may still be able to detect some signs. For example, if a computer starts to work much slower, it could be an indication that the program is trying to track you, consuming resources. Attention to the following clues:
- Antivirus and other security software that does not work or fails.
- Frequent hanging and slow response.
- A new installed toolbar that you have not installed.
- Some search engine or home page that you didn’t install.
- Difficulty logging into secure websites.
- Unexpected ad messages, spyware often comes bundled with adware.
- Unexplained increase in bandwidth consumption. Spyware uses your broadband to send all the collected information.
How to detect spyware on an Android phone? If you go to ” Settings” on your phone, you will see an option that allows you to download applications outside of the Google Play Store. If the option is enabled, it is a sign that you may have a spyware installed.
How to detect spyware on an iPhone? Search your device for the famous Cydia application. This application allows you to install software on a jailbroken phone. If you find it and you did not install it, you must remove it.
How Spyware Get to Your Devices
First, someone else can install it to track you. That is one of the reasons why you need to use your phone’s screen lock, don’t leave it unprotected and exposed.
The spyware most likely came bundled with a program or application that you installed yourself. Spyware often accompanies programs that disguise themselves as useful software, such as download managers, registry cleaners, etc.
Sometimes it comes with games. It may even come with a software package with real and useful programs. While manufacturers do their best to avoid spyware, there have been cases where they sneak in, so you should be vigilant.
Spyware can be spread through spoofing or by sending e-mails with links that, when clicked, download the spyware.
You can also get infected with spyware through a bogus website, one that appears to be from a reputable organization, but is actually fake and whose links will start downloading spyware or installing it on your browser.
How You Can Avoid Spyware
How can you avoid spyware? Here are some tips.
- Keep your operating system and software up to date. Updates help fix weaknesses that hackers can use to break into your program.
- Restrict administrator privileges on your computer. If you run your PC as an administrator, you are making the task of installing spyware much easier.
- Don’t use public or disreputable Wi-Fi, and if you do, use a VPN for protection.
- Be very careful about the permissions that apps require when you install them, especially if they ask for permission to access your microphone, camera, or personal data.
- Do not click on the links that come to you by email, unless you are sure of their source.
- Keep up-to-date and adequate antivirus and antimalware protection on all your computers.
- Put strong passwords on your computers to prevent unauthorized access.
- Rooting an Android phone or make Jailbreak an iPhone paves the way for spyware. Unless you really need the functionality, we recommend that you don’t.
How to Remove Spyware
If any of these telltale signs occur, you should use a spyware detection and removal program. You must remove the spyware immediately.
On Windows computers, in Task Manager, you can often identify malicious programs, although it becomes increasingly difficult because they disguise themselves as Windows system files.
On iOS systems, Activity Monitor allows you to review the programs you are using. In general, the iOS system is much more secure than Android, but it does not completely escape this scourge.
Since spyware hides very well, uninstalling the application will not be enough. Some spyware can even “self-install” after removal.
This basically means that when your PC connects to the internet, the malicious program will be reinstalled again. Although spyware can be difficult to remove, there are several different removal methods:
- Use robust spyware and malware removal software to clean your computer. Make sure it comes from a reliable source, as some programs that are sold as spyware removers are actually malicious programs.
- Some parts of the spyware may continue when you reinstall your personal data, so it is best to run a second scan with the anti-spy tool to make sure your device is completely clean.
- Many spyware require phones to be rooted or jailbroken in order for them to work. Removing the root or jailbreak of your phone can disable spyware. For iPhones, performing an iOS update will return the phone to a pre-jailbreak state.
- If the worst happens, spyware can be eradicated by performing a factory reset on an iPhone or Android phone. This removes all downloaded data and programs from the device and leaves them in their original “factory” state.
- You should back up your personal data before doing the reset, using Google or iTunes / iCloud, to restore all your data to the phone that you just deleted.
After removing the spyware, clear your internet cache to erase any traces. Check your financial accounts for unrecognized transactions and change all your passwords.
Use strong passwords and don’t use the same passwords for more than one account.
There is no magic or instant solution to protect yourself from malicious programs, however, with a good antivirus and a good anti-spyware solution you can reduce many of the chances of being infected with this type of malware.
Above all software solutions, common sense and care are paramount to keep your computer safe from threats. If you follow all the recommendations in this guide, you can not only protect yourself, but also get rid of possible spyware and other types of malware.
The good news is that as spyware gets smarter and more sophisticated, browsers and operating systems include more security tools. That is why you should always keep your system, programs and security tools up to date.