Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spyware And Its Threats

I think almost all of us are aware of the term Spyware and if you are a frequent internet user, probability is quite high that you might have affected by it at least once. How does this Spyware infect a computer actually and how to prevent them ?


Spyware is a malware that infects a computer stealthily and then keeps collecting information about user behavior like internet surfing habits, user logins or even bank or credit card account information. Sometimes, it collects information on web browsing habits and serves pop up ads to the user. And sometimes, it even asserts control over the computer without the user's knowledge.

How does Spyware infect a computer

On visiting unsafe websites, spyware can be downloaded from websites, email messages, instant messages, and from direct file-sharing connections. Sometimes, even when the user accepts End User License Agreement of an unsafe software and gets infected by spyware unknowingly.

Sometimes Spyware infects a computer through security holes in browser or other software. When the user visits a website controlled by a spyware attacker, the spyware attacks the browser taking advantage of its security holes and forces its download without the user's knowledge.

One difference of Spyware with other malware programs is, it does not self-replicate itself. So, it cannot transmit to other computers like the way viruses or other malware programs do.

Threats of Spyware

Spyware, after infecting a computer, can interfere with the user control over the computer. It may change web browser settings, redirect websites, change search results or settings of other software or the computer. Sometimes, it results in slow computer, making it almost impossible for the user to use it.

A Spyware program is rarely alone in infecting a computer. Sometimes, it disables firewalls or antivirus software and security settings of web browser and makes the computer vulnerable for other infections.

As it can change computer settings, it may result in extremely poor performance in terms of CPU activity, disk usage or network performance. Spyware which interferes with networking software, may result in poor networking performance.

The worse thing is, sometimes a user cannot even guess the proper reason of poor performance of his computer. He sees slow performance, frequent crashes, stability issues, application freezing, booting issues etc because of Spyware and ends up discarding the computer.

And some Spyware programs include keyloggers. It observes keystrokes pattern of user and can even capture screen of user computer and send sensitive information to outside entity.

Some Examples of Spyware

CoolWebSearch – It infects a computer and then, displays pop-up ads, redirects search results and directs DNS lookups to websites controlled by the attackers.

HuntBar – It adds toolbar to web browser, tracks web browsing behavior, redirects affiliate references and displays ads.

Internet Optimizer – It redirects web browser error pages to advertising.

Look2Me – It can even start in safe mode. It is actually a combination of rootkit and spyware. It is harder to detect and difficult to remove.

Zlob Trojan – It collects information about websites visited, search history or even keystrokes and sends the information to attackers. It even hijacks routers set to defaults.

Countermeasures of Spyware

There are couple of good anti-spyware programs which help removing the spywares. These anti-spyware programs scan network data and blocks known spyware threats.

Some anti-spyware programs can even do regular scans on computer and remove Spywares if already installed.

Some organizations enable firewalls and web proxies and block the websites which are known to install spywares. This also helps at times.

Words of Caution

Some malicious Spyware attackers make malicious anti-spyware programs and display ads of those through website banners. Once installed, they help installing even more Spywares instead of removing them. So, be very careful about using an anti-spyware programs. Use an anti-spyware from a trusted source only.

So, this was an article on Spywares to increase awareness among us about Spywares. Be very careful about the websites visited or installation of software. Do not click on suspicious links or email attachments. Enable firewalls and keep your system updated with a good security programs. And stay safe, stay secured.

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