What is Spyware?
Spyware is type of software that gathers information about your online habits. This information can be of great benefit to marketers, and they can use it to help them promote their products. The information that this software gathers can also be put to more sinister uses – for example, it could be used to steal your identity. It can also be used to take control of your browser. Even the relatively harmless types of spyware can slow down your browser speed and interfere with your enjoyment online.
Common Types of Spyware
The most common types of spyware could include:
Cookies are the most common type of spyware. This code stays in your web browser, and it can be used to identify you the next time you visit a website. It can also monitor your purchasing habits. Not all cookies are bad, and the better websites will ask your permission or at least warn you that there are being used. There are other types of cookies that track your behaviour online, and these would be considered an invasion of privacy.
Browser hijacking is where spyware is used to take over your web browser. It can then direct you to specific websites or even replace your home page with something you didn’t choose.
Stealware (aka affiliate fraud)
Stealware is a type of spyware that might not affect you directly, but it is criminal activity involving your browser. If you read a review on a website and then click a link to purchase this item, the person who wrote the review will usually get a small commission. Stealware works by making it look as if you have came from a different link so that the criminal is able to steal this commission.
Adware is a way to force your computer to display unwanted advertisement. These ads can be very intrusive, and they can take much of the joy out of surfing the web. They can involve pop-up ads that will cover your whole screen.
Keylogger is the most dangerous type of spyware around. This is because it can record the key strokes you use on the keyboard. This means that criminals will be able to steal things like your online banking password.
This type of spyware can download software to your computer without your permission. This means that it could be installing malware that could do all sorts of damage to your computer. It could also be used to steal data.
How to Protect your Computer against Spyware
Spyware is a problem for anyone who goes online. The criminals who create this type of malware are always finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems. It is therefore important that you install some type of anti-virus software that offers spyware protection. It is best to choose a quality product that is regularly updated in order to stay one step ahead of spyware in circulation. Other ways that you can protect your computer against spyware would include:
- Be on the lookout for any changes to how your web browser is functioning – for example, it might seem to be taking longer to load than usual.
- If you have any suspicions that your computer might be infected, do a full system-scan using the anti-virus software.
- You can add an extra layer of protection to your computer by making use of firewalls.
- Be sure to choose an anti-virus product that provides protection against spyware.
- Make sure that you update your security software on a regular basis – some products do this automatically.