We confidentlyuse our computers and devicestosend private emails, store personal pictures and videos, and shop because we trust our machines. Some bad actors take advantage of this trust to steal from us. Leveraging malicious tools, they snoop on us to copy or sell our data. Let’s look at some malicious software that helps others spy on us and what we can do about it.
Spyware is an umbrella term for any malicious software that can spy on you. Spyware can vary in degrees of sophistication. While some types of spyware carry basic features, advanced privacy-invading tools can be pretty threatening. Take, for example, Pegasus spyware, made by the Israeli NSO group. Pegasus can read your emails, texts, passwords, and call logs. It can even track your location and capture your video and audio.
The best way to combat the malware is to use a spyware removal and scanner tool. Anti-spyware technology can clean your devices and files to protect your privacy. Additionally, update your software regularly. The latest spyware can take advantage of software vulnerabilities to hide in your system.
#2 Trojan Horse Malware
Trojan horse malware is named after the Greek Trojan horse story where soldiers hid inside a giant wooden horse to enter the city of Troy. Trojan malware uses similarly deceptive tactics. The malware may hide beneath seemingly legitimate software to trick users.
While there are many different types of Trojans, some are specifically designed to invade your privacy. Trojan password-stealers can steal the login credentials to your bank accounts. Trojan game-thief steals your video game accounts.
Avoid both by only using legitimate software. Trojans often hide in pirated games, operating systems, and email attachments.
Keyloggers are very basic yet highly effective spyware. Most keyloggers simply log your keystrokes for someone else to view later. Keystrokes include everything you type on your keyboard, such as emails, usernames, passwords, documents, and other confidential information. Controversially, some organizations and some parents also use keyloggers to protect their interests.
There are two types of keyloggers:
- Software keyloggers, like stalkerware, are apps that secretly log keystrokes. Some software keyloggers are branded as security programs to keep their use hidden. Anti-malware software can usually block them.
- Hardware keyloggers are embedded in keyboards, USB devices, and plug-ins. To find a hardware keylogger, scrutinize your desktop or laptop for physical attachments. If you use a desktop computer, then follow the keyboard’s cable to the desktop and look for strange devices.
Stalkerware is a very specific type of spyware. Stalkers such as abusers, ex-partners, spouses, and others use stalkerware to spy on vulnerable targets like women and children. Stalkerware is often sold as cybersecurity software. It allows a user to track a target’s coordinates, hear their conversations, and read their messages.
If you notice that your private details are known to a partner or an abuser, check your phone for stalkerware. Please also avoid lending your phone to strangers as they may install stalkerware on your system. You can learn more about this malware from the Coalition Against Stalkerware.
Spyware is harmful software that can threaten your privacy and security. Never lend your devices to untrustworthy people, and certainly don’t take hardware gifts from them. Please also watch out for phishing emails and websites that may infect your system with spyware.