What is Spyware and What Does It Do?

Spyware is the term used for programs that also have the job to secret record what you do on your computer. Some spyware is rather innocuous and used to monitor trends or keep an eye on how licensed data was dispersed and used. However, most spyware is harmful, it is used to steal confidential information and send it to individuals to use for malicious reasons.

What If I Already Have Spyware?

There are a few ways to check and see if you already have downloaded spyware onto your phone or computer. For a phone, the simple check is to look at your data usage. If a program seems to be using large amounts of data, it is a likely harbor for spyware. After you have identified that you indeed have spyware on your phone you need to back up your data. Once this is done, choose to reset your phone back to the factory reset. This will rid your phone of the spyware, but also all data and programs you want to have installed. After the reset is done, use the backup to restore the data and programs you want on your phone.

For the computer, you can use programs like Hijack This or Netstat for Windows devices. These programs will help detect spyware and other malware on your computer system. Once you open and configure these programs they will go through and highlight the files on your computer that have spyware. Hijack This will scan your computer and show you files that it has flagged as likely for spyware, you can go through them and click to fix them by either repairing or removing the program. With Netstat, you delete the files pulled up as suspicious. After you are done, simply empty your recycling bin and your computer will be spyware free.

Protect Yourself from Spyware

Spyware gets onto your computer or phone easily. It is usually paired up with a program that you intentionally downloaded to use. Once installed into your system it begins to monitor what you are doing by recording keystrokes or monitoring the websites and programs you used and visit. Some forms of spyware are helpful. Parental controls can help protect children or limit what harmful sites they may visit. Employers might utilize spyware to make sure that employees using company equipment aren’t going to unapproved websites or using company resources for personal consumption.

The best protection against spyware is to make sure you don’t download it in the first place. Use sites and programs that are from reputable sources. Well-known websites rely on public trust and so they need to try and make sure their sites are spyware free. Do your research, before downloading something, check for positive reviews about spyware. Be wary of sites that offer deals that are seemingly too good to be true (like extremely cheap or free downloads). Finally, if you install and anti-spyware program, be sure it isn’t a form of spyware itself.