Spyware – Yet Another Cyber Menace

Computers & TechnologySite Security

  • Author Melissa Graham
  • Published December 28, 2019
  • Word count 729

The Deceitful Software That Can Take Any Computer User for a Ride

No one will perhaps believe the fact that simple acts such as keyboard strokes made on a computer could make it vulnerable to the deviousness of a spyware.

Spyware is actually a form of malware through which cyber criminals seek to invade computer systems to collect user information that is absolutely personal or confidential in nature.

A kind of tracking software medium, spyware is a malicious program clandestinely introduced into the system to first watch the usage pattern and then slowly takeover partial control of the information setup, without giving the user even the tiniest of a hint.

Called a spybot in the Internet context, it is introduced into the computer either as a virus or in the form of a new program. It then begins to spy over the entire information bank and pass on the relevant ones to the unscrupulous originators of the program – the cyber criminals who manipulate the personal information so gathered for their own benefit.

Spyware does not possess the inherent quality to replicate – like the viruses and worms do. Unlike virus or worms, it also does not spread, directly.

How is Spyware Introduced into A Computer?

One could introduce spyware in a machine by using any of the following modes:

  • Pop-ups. These are small windows abruptly appearing on the computer screen interface asking the user to download some program. While a pop-up can be timed to make its appearance, it can also be programmed to appear following a mouse click or a mouseover. Pop-ups may also appear when the user pulls down a menu or taskbar – also as little message boxes that pop up time and again whenever the mouse is scrolled over a specific point on the text or the task bar.

  • Drive-by Download. A drive-by download is a program that can get installed into a system without the user knowing anything about it. This method is considered far more devious than an ordinary pop-up, since it does not seek any permission to get itself downloaded, like pop-ups always do. Drive-by download can happen even when a user is simply accessing a website or screening an HTML-scripted e-mail message.

  • Adware. Adware generally refers to a software application that can cause an advertisement flash on the computer screen without the user’s consent. While majority of the advertising-supported software could be genuine and not engaged in spying over a private domain, there are many fraudulent ones who covertly induct spyware into the machine through adware pop-ups. For example, the revenues from the ads are unscrupulously diverted to a site that is not the one shown on the advertisement. There have also been instances of adware that can track personal information and transmit it to third parties for unethical gain.

As newer strategies are being adopted by computer criminals with every passing day, it becomes imperative for a user to learn to recognize the telltale signs of spyware invasion from all possible sources, including this one from Microsoft.

Anti-Spyware Solutions

A host of good anti-spyware programs are now available in the market – online too - to tackle the spyware problems.

A basic anti-spyware programs can work in either of the following two techniques:

  • Real Time Protection! These solutions provide real time protection against intrusion of spyware into the system. What they actually do is to scan the entire data - that the user sift through while accessing various websites - for spyware and block all the suspicious elements. This action is almost identical to an anti-virus scan.

  • Detection and Elimination. The second type helps in finding and isolating/destroying spyware, which have already intruded into the system. Easy-to-use and relatively more popular, these solutions are programmed to scan the contents of windows registry, operating system files, and other installed programs. At the end of the scanning process, the result is displayed on the screen. In case any threats are found, the user is presented with diverse options to deal with them in a manner he deems appropriate. For better management of the program, one can schedule the scanning on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Combating the spyware problem has become a vital area of action for every computer user. It is therefore essential that one must find the right solution – or a combination of more than one – to fight the menace.

Melissa is technology copywriter at SkywellSoftware IT company

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