Do you shop online? Do you use online banking? Do you ever feel your internet usage is being monitored when you surf the web or shop online? – You might be a victim of Spyware!
Spyware is software that is designed to collect user information from a device and to transfer this data without the permission or knowledge to someone who will take advantage of it. This is mainly done to get access to private and confidential data such as passwords, account information, credit card numbers, etc. Spyware can also track user key strokes and browser habits to gather data from the computer and sell it to malicious third-parties.
In most cases Spyware enters a user’s computer by attaching itself to a program that the user may have intentionally installed on their computer. It may also access your computer from malicious or compromised websites.
Problems caused by Spyware
Identity theft often takes place because of spyware. A user may not be aware that their data is being transferred to unknown locations or is being used by persons with harmful intentions. The spyware can also hold the data for ransom or give it to third-parties.
Spyware can cause permanent damage to your computer. If it exists on your computer it can use up a significant amount of your computers resources. This can cause your computer to run slowly and you may experience system crashes or freezing. It may also cause your computer to overheat, resulting in permanent damage. In some cases spyware may adjust your computer settings and may even change your homepage.
How can you protect yourself?
The first step is to figure out if you currently have spyware on your computer. If so, you need to get an antivirus program that can scan for existing viruses on your computer. We recommend Webroot however there are many other alternatives. Watch out for free unknown programs however as they may themselves contain spyware. It is best to have your IT provider perform the scan for you.
Your antivirus software should also include web page scanning. In other words if you do a Google search for example you should have some indication as to whether the the site is good before you go to it. An example is shown below:
Email is also a great way for spyware to get into your system. You can prevent this using an email spam management system that will remove suspect email from your system before it can cause harm.
The best way to protect yourself however is to be vigilant. Practice safe computing habits and you are unlikely to become infected with spyware.
Faraz Mehmood is a Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Faraz can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.
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