Is malware spyware? Is spyware malware? Is spyware… spyware? All great questions. Well most of them anyway.
Chances are you’ve probably heard of malware and spyware. They don’t have the same name so you assumed they were different things altogether. Well it turns out, spyware is a type of malware. If you want to know more about what malware is, check out our ‘Idiot’s guide to malware’. Don’t worry, we don’t actually think you are an idiot. And yes, all this terminology can get pretty confusing.
What is spyware anyway?
Okay, now we’ve got all of that cleared up. Let’s talk a little more about what spyware is. It is a software that infects your Mac, PC or mobile device and gathers information about you. It is there to track the sites you visit, the things you download, your usernames and passwords, text conversations, and the emails you send and receive.
Spyware is basically the software equivalent of that creepy stalker you saw in the news. You know, the one that got a restraining order when he wouldn’t leave his estranged wife alone?
How do I get spyware?
As you might expect spyware does a good job of hiding itself. It is crafty. It will probably get onto your computer without you knowing. You might even accidentally give it permission to install when you agree to the terms and conditions of a program you thought was legitimate.
However it manages to get on your computer or phone, the way it works is generally the same. It runs sneakily in the background collecting information or monitoring how you use your device.
Even if you do find the spyware, it isn’t always so simple to get rid of. Again, a lot like that weird stalker guy we mentioned before.
Who uses spyware?
Well, that depends. The most obvious answer is hackers. They can often be responsible for creating and spreading spyware. They might want to get your Facebook login details or your bank account info.
One of the most high profile uses of spyware was when the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO group developed Pegasus. This is a spyware that can be installed on devices that run iOS and Android. It was found to be capable of reading text messages, tracking calls, accessing the target device’s microphone and camera. The reason it got so heavily covered was because it was found in a failed attempt to install on a human rights activists phone. There have been a number of court cases since. It is widely believed that the software was being sold to human rights abusing governments to spy on activists and rival political parties.
There is actually another quite common use of spyware. A poll last year revealed that 1 in 10 Americans have used stalkerware to track their partners and exes. In fact, there is quite a big market for this. Now we’ve got your attention, haven’t we?!
How do I protect myself from spyware?
Now that you know you could quite easily be a target of spyware, it is time to get yourself protected.
First things first, let’s talk about safe keeping. Don’t install anything you aren’t sure you trust. We advise that you download only from reputable software sites. Read reviews about whatever it is you want to install. Do a bit of research to make sure it is what it says it is.
Of course, we all make mistakes. Spyware is getting more and more sophisticated so it is a good idea to install an anti-spyware tool. And guess what? We have developed something just for that!
All the best,