Spyware

Spyware refers to software that infiltrates your computer with the aim of discovering personal information or browsing history and in some cases, passes these details on to third parties. While not always destructive to your device, spyware is often used unlawfully with the intent of gathering data, such as credit card and bank details, without the user’s consent.

Spyware

Spyware refers to software that infiltrates your computer with the aim of discovering personal information or browsing history and in some cases, passes these details on to third parties. While not always destructive to your device, spyware is often used unlawfully with the intent of gathering data, such as credit card and bank details, without the user’s consent.

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4 min read

Reading time icon

4 min read

What is spyware?

Spyware is a type of malware that is used to ‘spy’ on your computer or devices with the intent of collecting personal details, such as emails, passwords, history and credit card numbers, and the capability to pass this information onto third parties over the internet. While motives may vary, often attackers may want to use financial information such as passwords and account PIN numbers to empty bank accounts or support fraudulent activity. As well as obtaining personal data, certain types of spyware are able to harm your computer, making changes to your browser that result in slow performance or crashing altogether.

Spyware can be installed without your knowledge through the opening of an email or attachment that contains malicious software. Once installed, spyware is hard to detect and can sometimes be included alongside genuine software.

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Types of spyware

Each individual type of spyware operates differently, having varied effects on your computer:

  • Adware appears as unwanted pop-up windows and adverts. These ads can be annoying but are often safe however, sometimes adware is used to collect personal information, track your movements and cause harm to your security system.
  • Keyboard Loggers (also known as keystroke loggers and keyloggers) record every keystroke you make, ultimately gaining access to your usernames and passwords across multiple sites. Like with most types of spyware, keyboard loggers can be installed for honest reasons where the user is aware, e.g. for parents to monitor their child’s internet activities or in a workplace.
  • Banking Trojans operate similarly to Trojan Horse viruses and gain access to a device or app by disguising as a legitimate source. By tricking users into downloading a file that appears genuine, banking Trojans are able to access and empty their bank accounts
  • Password Stealers pray on infected computers and are designed to collect and store passwords, without the user’s knowledge or consent. Password Stealers are applications that run in the background of a computer or device, harvesting and sending the stolen passwords to a specified destination or author for fraudulent use.
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Spyware removal and protection

Spyware removal is only necessary once your computer has been threatened, follow the basic rules below to and avoid an attack from the different types of spyware:

  • Avoid opening emails from unknown senders
  • Don’t download files or other attachments if you are unsure of the source
  • Be wary of links sending you to malicious websites – a good habit to get into is hovering over the link with your mouse to check the destination before clicking through

Use a trusted and proactive anti-spyware system that not only cleans up your device, and removes spyware but also acts as a spyware scanner and detector, identifying a threat before it has been able to activate your computer.

ESET protects you against Spyware

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